How do the lockdowns look across the UK?

PA

Strict lockdowns across all four nations of the UK which came into force in late December and early January are set to continue in the coming weeks.

New, more transmissible variants of the virus have “changed the situation we’re in very substantially”, according to England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

What are the current rules across the different nations of the UK?

England

Coronavirus – Tue Jan 26, 2020
Coronavirus – Tue Jan 26, 2020

On January 4, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a national lockdown for England, with a plan to “get our lives back to as close to normal as possible” being published in mid-February.

But he warned this timetable is “inevitably going to be subject to adjustment”, and some previously-planned easing such as the return of pupils to schools after the February half-term has already been delayed.

On Wednesday, Mr Johnson said the earliest schools will reopen is March 8 – and only if the Government achieves its target of vaccinating the most vulnerable groups by mid-February.

Meanwhile, people in England must continue to stay at home apart for limited reasons, including grocery shopping, to seek medical help, or to exercise with members of their household or support bubble.

The Government has advised everyone who can to work from home, though parents are allowed to leave to meet their childcare bubble.

Wales

People in Wales have been living under Level Four restrictions since December 20 – with the exception of Christmas Day when families were allowed to form “festive bubbles”.

This means people should stay at home and avoid mixing with other households or travelling without a reasonable excuse.

The Welsh Government reviews coronavirus measures every 21 days, and First Minister Mark Drakeford is on Friday due to confirm the highest level of restrictions will be in place for another three weeks.

Schools go back in England
Schools go back in England

He is also expected to say that primary school pupils may be able to begin returning to their desks after the February half-term if coronavirus rates continue to fall.

Schools are currently closed apart from for children of key workers.

Scotland

Mainland Scotland and some islands were placed under the highest Level 4 restrictions on December 26, meaning everyone should stay at home.

This was enhanced in early January to a “temporary lockdown”, with new guidance making it a legal requirement to stay at home except if someone has an “essential reason” to leave – to work, food shop or for caring responsibilities.

Anyone able to work from home must do so. However those shielding to protect themselves from Covid-19 should not go into work – even if they cannot work from home.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the tough measures will remain in place until at least the middle of February.

Coronavirus – Wed Jan 20, 2021
Coronavirus – Wed Jan 20, 2021

Northern Ireland

The post-Christmas lockdown in Northern Ireland which had been due to end in February has now been extended until March 5.

The closure of schools to all pupils, except those who are vulnerable and the children of key workers, has also been extended until at least March 8.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said it is not possible to give a definitive date for a return to class and stressed March 8 is the “earliest” schools could return.

Non-essential retailers must also remain closed, and employees are encouraged to work from home.

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