How coronavirus restrictions will differ around the UK

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England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are taking different paths out of lockdown

England

Groups of up to six people can meet outside from Monday in public and private outdoor spaces, including gardens. Physical distancing including staying 2 metres apart must be observed if those meetings involve members of different households.

People are only allowed to be inside the homes of friends and families in order to access gardens.

Some schools will reopen to some pupils from Monday, with nurseries, reception, year 1 and year 6 leading the way. On 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide face-to-face contact time for years 10 and 12.

Outdoor retail spaces can reopen on Monday, followed by other non-essential retail outlets on 15 June.

A government easing of lockdown rules since the middle of May has meant outdoor exercise has been encouraged, as long as physical distancing is respected and activities occur only with a maximum of one other person from another household.

Those who can work from home have meanwhile been told to continue to do so, but those who cannot have been told to travel, while avoiding public transport if they can.

Scotland

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed at her daily press briefing on Thursday that she would proceed with phase 1 of the Scottish government’s four-stage plan for moving out of lockdown, while insisting that the stay-at-home message remained core to new guidance.

From Friday, Scots will be able to meet with members of one other household. This must happen outdoors, in parks or private gardens, and while observing social distancing, and the total number of people meeting should be a maximum of eight. There is also a strong recommendation not to meet more than one other household per day. People will be allowed to travel – preferably by walking or cycling – for recreation or visits, with a suggested limit of five miles, although Sturgeon has said that people should “use their judgment”. Sitting or sunbathing in parks will be permitted, as will many outdoor non-contact sports including golf, fishing, tennis and bowls.

In terms of business, most outdoor work that has been put on hold can resume. Garden centres and recycling facilities are also allowed to reopen, while takeaway and drive-through food outlets will no longer be discouraged. From Monday, teachers can return to schools to prepare for the start of the new school year on 11 August, when pupils will begin a “blended” model of at home and in school learning. From Wednesday, child minding services and fully outdoor nurseries will begin to reopen. 

Wales 

On bank holiday Monday, Welsh beaches were the quietest they had been in years compared with English coastal resorts. Places such as Barry Island were virtually deserted in contrast to packed beaches on the English south coast including Bournemouth and Brighton. This was because Wales is still operating arguably the strictest lockdown policy of all the nations of the UK.

While Welsh restrictions have eased, such as through the reopening of gardening and recycling centres, the central message from the Cardiff devolved government has been to “stay local”, unlike elsewhere where day trips anywhere in the country are now permitted. While Boris Johnson has announced the opening of non-essential retail shops by mid-June, the Wales health minister, Vaughan Gething, stated this week that his country could continue its “cautious approach’” to lifting the lockdown, signalling that Welsh high streets may open later than in England.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland plans to allow small outdoor weddings and some outdoor retailers to open from 8 June.

It will mark the second phase of a five-phase plan to lift the region’s lockdown. On 18 May garden and recycling centres were allowed to open, a cautious approach that continued with Thursday’s announcement about phase 2.

Authorities signalled a green light for car showrooms, furniture shops, agricultural machinery, dog-grooming parlours and outdoor weddings with no more than 10 people. Hotels will be allowed to take bookings but have no date for their reopening.

The first minister, Arlene Foster, said the Stormont executive would confirm the relaxation after it had met again on 4 June. The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium called Thursday’s announcement a welcome first step.

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