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Covid: What are the new tiers and lockdown rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

More parts of England will move into the toughest tier four restrictions from Boxing Day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

Tighter measures have also been introduced in other parts of England, to curb the spread of a new variant of Covid-19.

Other parts of England have also been placed in higher tiers.

The whole of Wales has entered another lockdown. Mainland Scotland and Northern Ireland start new lockdowns on Boxing Day.

Which areas face new restrictions?

From 00:01 GMT on Saturday 26 December the following places will move into tier four:

  • Sussex
  • Oxfordshire
  • Suffolk
  • Norfolk
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Parts of Essex not already in tier four
  • Waverley in Surrey
  • Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton, but excluding the New Forest

Regent street shopper

The following will move into tier three:

  • Bristol
  • Gloucestershire
  • Somerset
  • Swindon
  • Isle of Wight
  • New Forest
  • Northamptonshire
  • Cheshire
  • Warrington

These areas will move into tier two:

  • Cornwall
  • Herefordshire

What are the rules for Christmas?

People in tier four areas of England cannot travel elsewhere and are only allowed to celebrate Christmas with members of their own household and support bubbles.

Elsewhere in England – and in Scotland and Wales – joining other households in “Christmas bubbles” is now allowed on Christmas Day only. In Northern Ireland one day between 23 and 27 December is allowed.

What are the Covid rules in England?

All areas of England have been placed in one of four tiers, depending on factors such as how fast Covid is spreading and pressure on hospitals.

People in tiers one to three should not to travel into the new tier four areas. Across all tiers people should now “stay local”.


Tier 4 banner

What are the new restrictions in tier four?

Almost 18 million people now live in tier four areas. The restrictions are similar to the last national lockdown and include:

  • Residents should stay at home, unless they have a “reasonable excuse” such as work or education
  • All non-essential shops must close
  • Hairdressers and nail bars must close
  • Indoor entertainment venues must close
  • Gyms and indoor swimming pools, indoor sports courts and dance studios must close
  • You cannot meet other people indoors, unless you live with them or they are part of your support bubble
  • People should not leave tier four areas or travel abroad, except for limited reasons (including work and education)
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are only allowed in exceptional circumstances

“Clinically extremely vulnerable” people in tier four areas are advised to stay at home “as much as possible”. The government says if they can’t work from home, they shouldn’t go to work.

What can you do in tier four?

Activities still allowed include:

  • Meeting one other person from another household in an open public space, if you are both alone
  • Shopping for essentials such as food and medicine
  • Outdoor pools, playgrounds, sports courts, golf courses and horse riding centres can open
  • You can leave home for work, education, training, childcare and for medical appointments and emergencies
  • Communal religious worship
  • Support bubbles are still allowed and children can move between separated parents
Map showing tiers

The measures for London and the south east will be reviewed by 30 December, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock said they are unlikely to be eased.

Tier 3 banner
  • You can’t mix indoors, in private gardens or in most outdoor venues, except with your household or bubble
  • You can meet in a group of up to six in other outdoor spaces, such as parks, beaches or countryside
  • Shops, gyms and personal care services (such as hairdressing) can stay open, as can swimming pools
  • Bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants must stay closed, except for delivery and takeaway
  • Collective worship can take place – with no mixing outside your bubble
  • Small wedding ceremonies can take place, but not receptions
  • Sports fans cannot attend events in stadiums
  • Indoor entertainment venues – such as bowling alleys and cinemas – must stay closed
  • People are advised not to travel to and from tier three areas
Tier 2 banner
  • You can’t mix indoors with anyone apart from members of your household or bubble
  • You can meet in a group of up to six outside – including in a private garden, or a public place
  • Shops, gyms and personal care services (such as hairdressing) can open
  • Pubs and bars can only open if they serve substantial meals. Alcohol can be served with that meal
  • Pubs and restaurants must shut at 23:00 GMT, with last orders at 22:00
  • Sports events in stadiums can be attended by up to 2,000 spectators, or 50% capacity (whichever is smaller)
  • Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can take place (with restrictions)
  • Non-essential foreign travel is allowed, subject to quarantine rules
  • People are advised not to travel to and from tier three areas
Tier 1 banner

Areas in the lowest tier will have some restrictions relaxed:

  • The rule of six will apply indoors and outdoors
  • Spectator sports can resume with a crowd of 50% of capacity, or 4,000 spectators, whichever is smaller.

What are the new restrictions in Scotland?

People in a street in Scotland alongside a sign on Covid protection rules

From Boxing Day, level four lockdown measures will be in place across mainland Scotland for three weeks. Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and other island communities will be in level three.

Christmas bubbles are only allowed on Christmas Day – with a maximum of eight people from three households.

Non-essential travel between Scotland and England is not allowed over Christmas.

Scotland has five levels of restrictions – from zero to four.Map of Scotland restrictions

Covid Scotland level 4 banner

Level four (lockdown) rules


  • No household mixing
  • Exceptions include providing care to a “vulnerable person”, or “extended households” to reduce loneliness
  • Children can move between homes of separated parents


  • Up to two households – no more than six adults – can meet in a private garden or a public place like a park
  • Children under 12 are not counted and don’t need to social distance
  • Young people aged 12 to 17 can meet in groups of up to six outdoors – they’re not subject to the two-household limit, but need to be physically distanced

Pubs, cafes & holiday accommodation:

  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars must close – but takeaways can operate as normal
  • Holiday accommodation must close – but hotels, B&Bs and self-catering can open for essential customers (such as people staying for work)
  • Hotels and other accommodation providers can serve food up to 10pm to guests

Supermarkets, clothes shops & markets:

  • Only essential shops can open, and must follow Covid-safe guidelines
  • Click and collect, on-line services and outdoor retail, such as garden centres can open
  • Hairdressers, nail salons and other close contact services must close

Sport, leisure & entertainment:

  • Indoor sports facilities, including gyms, must close
  • You can meet others outdoors for informal exercise or sport – outdoor gyms can remain open
  • Outdoor non-contact sports are permitted
  • Leisure and entertainment premises, including cinemas, must close
  • Film and TV production can continue
  • Public buildings, such as libraries, must close – but libraries can operate click and collect

Places of worship:

  • Places of worship can open with social distancing and a maximum 20 people
  • Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships, are allowed with social distancing and a maximum 20 people
  • Wedding receptions are not allowed
  • Funerals and wakes can take place with a maximum of 20 guests


  • Schools, colleges and universities can remain open
  • Early learning and childcare can remain open
  • Informal childcare is only allowed for parents or guardians employed in essential services
Covid Scotland level 3 banner

Level three (very high) rules

  • Pubs and restaurants can open until 18:00, but alcohol can’t be served
  • Leisure and entertainment venues must close
  • Non-essential travel in or out of the area is not allowed
  • Indoor gym use is restricted to individuals
  • Hairdressers and barbers can open
Covid Scotland level 2 banner

Level two (high) rules

  • No gatherings inside homes
  • Up to six people from two households can meet outdoors or at a pub or restaurant
  • Most hospitality venues can open
  • Alcohol can be served indoors with a meal until 20:00 and outdoors until 22:30
  • Most leisure premises must close except gyms, cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades
Covid Scotland level 1 banner

Level one (medium) rules

  • No gatherings inside homes – unless you live on an island with no road link to the mainland, where six people can gather from two households
  • Up to eight people from three households can meet outdoors
  • Hospitality has a 22:30 curfew
  • Events, like weddings, are restricted to a maximum of 20 people
  • Indoor contact sports for adults are not permitted
  • Work from home if you can
Covid Scotland level 0 banner

Level zero (nearly normal) rules

  • Face-covering, hygiene and social-distancing rules still apply
  • Indoor meetings are allowed with up to eight people from three households
  • Up to 15 people from five households can meet outdoors
  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars can serve food and alcohol indoors (a maximum of eight people from three households) and outdoors (a maximum of 15 people from five households)
  • Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues must close, but all other leisure venues can open
  • What are Northern Ireland’s rules?


    A six-week lockdown begins in Northern Ireland on Boxing Day.

    The first week, until 2 January, has stricter restrictions, including essential shops closing at 20:00 GMT and no sport.

    You can form a Christmas bubble for one day between 23 and 27 December. This is to help people working on Christmas Day.

    The new rules include:

    • Closure of all non-essential shops, including garden centres and homeware shops
    • No click-and-collect services
    • Closure of hair and beauty salons
    • Hospitality businesses open only for takeaway and delivery
    • Leisure and entertainment venues must close
    • Off-licences must close by 20:00
    • Car washes must close
    • Hotels can open until 28 December for Christmas travellers
    • Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals limited to 25 people – wedding receptions not allowed
    • Churches can open, but with measures like compulsory face masks
    • Elite sport allowed behind closed doors from 2 January

    Until 26 December, the rules are:

    • Households cannot mix indoors in private homes, except for reasons including bubbles and childcare
    • No more than six people from two households can gather in a private garden (children under 12 are exempt)
    • A maximum of 15 people can gather outside, unless for an organised, risk-assessed event
    • Hotels, libraries, visitor attractions and non-essential shops can open
    • Gyms can open for individual or one-to-one training
    • Restaurants, cafes, and pubs serving food can open and must close by 23:00
    • Places of worship can open and maximum capacity for weddings and funerals is based on building size
    • Up to 500 spectators can attend sporting events

    What are the rules in Wales?

    Shoppers in Wales
    Wales has entered a new national lockdown.Christmas bubbles of no more than two households are only allowed on Christmas Day. The new level four measures mean that: You must stay at home, except for very limited purposes You must not visit other households, or meet other people you do not live with, unless they are in your support bubble Many types of businesses are required to close Wedding receptions and wakes are not allowed You should also: Work from home if you can Not travel without reasonable excuse Not travel internationally without reasonable excuse The following must close: Venues for events and conferences Entertainment venues including theatres and concert halls Indoor and outdoor visitor attractions Sport courts, golf courses, leisure and fitness facilities Holiday accommodation Pubs, bars and cafes (except for takeaway and delivery) Hairdressers and nail salons Non-essential shops (click and collect allowed) Libraries (click and collect only)

source: BBC.COM

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