The Speaker
Friday, 14 June 2024 – 07:28

Coronavirus: What changes to restrictions were announced this week?

Coronavirus cases in the UK have been rising over recent weeks, with the R number now thought to be between 1 and 1.2.

Cases have been rising across many parts of the UK, though many of the recent new cases have been attributed to young people.

The number of deaths from the virus in the UK has remained low, though the number of cases has risen sharply. On Friday, the number of confirmed daily UK COVID-19 cases was 3,539.

The rise in cases has led to multiple changes to Coronavirus restrictions. Here’s a roundup of key changes to Coronavirus restrictions announced in the UK this week…


Changes to international travel

Hungary, French Polynesia, Réunion and Portugal (apart from Azores and Madeira) are to be removed from the travel corridor lists in England and Northern Ireland from 4am on Saturday 12 September. The change means that arrivals to England from these countries will have to self-isolate on arrival for 14 days.

Portugal was removed from the travel corridors lists in Scotland and Wales last week – Hungary, French Polynesia and Réunion will though be removed from 4am this Saturday, as in England and Northern Ireland

Sweden is being added to the travel corridor lists in all parts of the UK, meaning arrivals to the UK from Sweden will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival (unless they have COVID-19 symptoms).


Changes to social gatherings

Social gatherings of more than 6 people are to be banned from Monday in England. Being part of a gathering of more than six people will be made illegal and those ignoring the rules could be dispersed, fined and possibly arrested by police. The rules will apply both indoors and outdoors – though there will be exemptions for certain activities and locations such as in schools, workplaces and for sports teams.

In Scotland, a ‘Rule of Six’ will also be implemented, with social gatherings in all indoor and outdoor venues being limited to 6 people from two households. Children under the age of 12 will not though be counted as part of the group of six.

In Wales, a Rule of Six will only apply indoors. From Monday, indoor gatherings in the country can only consist of up to 6 people who are all part of the same extended household. Children under the age of 11 will not though be counted as part of the group of six. Rules on outdoor gatherings in Wales remain unchanged, with outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people with social distancing still allowed.


Localised restrictions

A number of locations in the UK have seen tightened restrictions implemented in their areas this week.

Strict new restrictions have been implemented in Bolton this week, with all hospitality outlets in Bolton now restricted to takeaway service only and venues required to close overnight between 10pm and 5am.

In Wales, localised restrictions have been implemented in the Caerphilly County Borough area. Among restrictions, people living in the area must remain in it unless they have a good reason to leave it and visitors should try to avoid the area wherever possible. Indoor gatherings between people from separate households should also be avoided and extended household arrangements have been suspended in the area.

In Scotland, tough restrictions on home visits now exist in much of the West of the country. People living in Glasgow, East and West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire cannot meet other households in their homes – the rules will be extended to Lanarkshire from Saturday.

In Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull, households will be banned from mixing from Tuesday (15 September).

In Northern Ireland, new restrictions forbid people visiting other people’s homes in most cases in Ballymena town, the Belfast council areas and postcode areas BT28, BT29 and BT43.


Use of face coverings

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said on Friday that people in Wales should now wear face coverings in public indoor spaces across the country. The advice marks a change in the country, where the recommended use of masks had been somewhat limited compared to in other parts of the UK.


Work from home or work in the office?

Advice has been continuing in England for people to return to offices where possible, however, many employers are still encouraging their staff to work from home. For staff that are returning to the office, their employer should be following COVID-secure guidelines.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford emphasized on Friday that people in Wales should continue to work from home if they can do so effectively. In Scotland, people are also being advised to continue working from home.

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