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


More areas could see restrictions tightened to control a new variant of Covid-19, the UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said.

A tougher fourth tier of coronavirus restrictions for London and much of south-east England is now in place.

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

What are the rules for Christmas?
People in tier four areas 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.

Exactly who can be in the temporary bubbles varies across the UK.

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".

There are exceptions in all tiers for childcare and support bubbles.

Tier 4 banner
What are the new restrictions in tier four?
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 that 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.

Postcode checker: Find out the rules where you live
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?
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. No non-essential travel between Scotland and England is allowed throughout the festive period.

How does Scotland's five-level system work?

People in a street in Scotland alongside a sign on Covid protection rules
Each area of Scotland has been placed in one of five levels.

Several areas had been moved into lower restriction tiers recently, but Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian all moved from level two to level three on Friday 18 December, with greater restrictions on travel and hospitality.

Covid Scotland level 0 banner
Level zero (nearly normal) rules

Indoor meetings allowed with up to eight people from three households
Up to 15 people from five households can meet outdoors
No areas have been placed in the lowest tier.
Covid Scotland level 1 banner
Level one (medium) rules

Additional restrictions apply:

In Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, up to six people from two households can meet inside their homes. This is not allowed in Highlands or Moray.
People in all areas can meet up to seven other people outdoors, from a maximum of three households
Covid Scotland level 2 banner
Level two (high) rules

Additional restrictions apply:

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 are closed except gyms, cinemas, bingo halls and amusement arcades
Covid Scotland level 3 banner
Level three (very high) rules

Additional restrictions apply:

Pubs and restaurants can open until 18:00, but alcohol cannot be served
Leisure and entertainment venues are closed
Non-essential travel in or out of the area not allowed
Gyms uses restricted to individuals and not groups
Covid Scotland level 4 banner
Level four (lockdown) rules

Additional restrictions apply:

Non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants, and gyms close
Libraries and hairdressers also close
Schools stay open in all levels, and there must also be no non-essential travel between Scotland the rest of the UK.

More detail on Scotland's restrictions
What are Northern Ireland's rules?
People in Belfast
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
Read Northern Ireland's official guidance.

What are the rules in Wales?
Shoppers in Wales
image captionLockdown restrictions have eased 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)

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