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Lockdown latest: restrictions begin to lift across the UK

All four UK nations have started taking steps out of lockdown after months of tough restrictions.
Limited outdoor socialising is now allowed across much of the UK and ‘non-essential’ shops are preparing to reopen within weeks.
Hairdressers have already…

All four UK nations have started taking steps out of lockdown after months of tough restrictions. Limited outdoor socialising is now allowed across much of the UK and 'non-essential' shops are preparing to reopen within weeks. Hairdressers have already reopened by appointment in Wales, although people from England are banned from crossing the border to get haircuts.

Here, Which? explains the current rules and upcoming changes under each UK nation's roadmap out of lockdown, and reveals whether children count towards the rule of six (or four) where you are. Click the links for the rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

England's lockdown rules explained

When can I meet friends and family?

The 'stay at home' rule has now been lifted and the 'rule of six' for outdoor socialising once again applies - with a couple of differences. Firstly, you can actually either have up to six people from any number of households, or two households (containing any number of people) meeting outdoors.

And secondly, unlike the previous version of the rule of six, children of all ages now count towards the six-person limit. Indoor socialising is still outlawed for the time being.

When will shops reopen?

Non-essential retailers can open their doors from 12 April at the earliest. When they do, the government has said they will be allowed to stay open until 10pm from Monday to Saturday in a bid to spread out shoppers and avoid congestion.

A group of campaigners has called for a 'Shop Out to Help Out' discount scheme for the high street, echoing the Eat Out to Help Out scheme for restaurants and pubs last August. The Save the Street group suggests the discount should only apply to independent retailers and offer 50% off up to a value of GBP10.

When will pubs and restaurants reopen?

If there are no delays to the roadmap, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality will reopen on 12 April in England, but there will be restrictions to the way they operate (click the link below for all the details).

When can I get a haircut?

Once again, 12 April is the date for your diary.

Scotland's Covid-19 restrictions

Scotland's 'stay at home' guidance will change to 'stay local' from 2 April. This means you're advised not to leave your local authority.

When can I meet friends and family?

Limited outdoor socialising is currently permitted.

Four people from two households can meet outdoors, but only if they're from the same local area. Children under 12 do not count towards the total of four. And when no adults are present, up to four children aged between 12 and 17 can meet without being subject to the two-household limit.

From 26 April, the 'rule of six' will return, meaning six people from up to three households will be able to meet outdoors.

When will shops reopen?

Garden centres can reopen from 2 April, and for other non-essential retailers it's 26 April.

What about pubs and restaurants

Pubs and restaurants will reopen in a restricted capacity alongside non-essential shops on 26 April. The link below has more detail.

When can I get a haircut?

Hairdressers and barbers will be allowed to reopen from 2 April.

What are the rules in Wales?

When can I meet friends and family?

The 'stay local' rule ended on 29 March, meaning residents can now travel anywhere in Wales. Six people from up to two households are allowed to meet outdoors with social distancing.

Children under 11 and carers do not count towards the six. Residents of Wales can go on holiday within Wales provided they stay in self-contained accommodation and only travel with their own household.

When will shops reopen?

Wales' non-essential retailers will reopen from 12 April at earliest. Garden centres are already open and non-essential goods can once again be sold in supermarkets.

What about pubs and restaurants

It's 12 April again for this one, but restrictions will be in place on who you can drink and dine with (see link below for details).

When can I get a haircut?

Hairdressers and barbers are open by appointment only.

Northern Ireland's restrictions explained

When can I meet friends and family?

The outdoor 'rule of six' for two households is now back in place.

Children of all ages count towards the six.

When will shops reopen?

Non-essential shops are slated to reopen from 12 April provided there are no delays to the roadmap.

What about pubs and restaurants

You can visit pubs and restaurants again from 12 April, with restrictions to how they operate. See the full guidance in the link below.

When can I get a haircut?

You'll be able to visit barbers and hairdressers from 12 April.

What about travel and holidays?

Currently, Wales is the only country that allows residents to go on holiday - as long as they stay within Wales in self-catered accommodation and only travel with their own household. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland still only allow essential travel, which doesn't include holidays, although this will change as rules are relaxed in each nation.

International holidays are still banned in every UK nation, and travelling for essential reasons is very difficult right now. Many countries have banned incoming travellers from the UK due to the new variant present here. The UK has now closed all its 'travel corridors', meaning you need a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed into the UK and have to quarantine when you return home, and quarantine in a hotel if you're arriving from a 'red list' country.

All of this means that people who've booked holidays should be offered refunds if their flights are cancelled or hotels are closed. But if your flight goes ahead, you may not be able to get your money back. While many insurers now offer 'coronavirus cancellation cover', this often only covers you if you or someone you're travelling with catches the virus.

Only a handful of insurers will cover you for cancelling due to a new lockdown.


This story was first published on 23 June 2020 and has been regularly updated since to reflect changes to the guidelines.

The latest update was on 1 April 2021.