Big Issue Vendor

How is lockdown easing across Britain?

Find out how lockdown is easing before summer in England, Scotland and Wales
Customers won't need to order a "substantial meal" with their alcohol at pubs as England exits its third lockdown. Image: Pexels

Britain is continuing on its journey towards normality as lockdown restrictions ease, letting people socialise at home, visit pubs indoors and hug their loved ones. 

But reopenings planned in the country’s roadmap out of lockdown could still be delayed, as scientists warn the UK is on the verge of a third wave of infections.

Around 40 million people have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the government is giving the green light for foreign travel to select countries, though in some areas people are asked only to go abroad if the trip is necessary.

The so-called Indian variant of the virus – now known as the Delta variant – is causing concern as it continues to spread in the UK, with data showing it is now the dominant form of the virus across the country.

Restrictions are set to be lifted in England on June 21. But Professor Ravi Gupta from the University of Cambridge – speaking to BBC Radio 4 – said the change should be postponed as the Delta variant continues to fuel “exponential growth” of infections.

Those decisions are still to be confirmed and the rules in England, Scotland and Wales are changing regularly. 

But what does that mean, and how do the restrictions in different areas vary? Here’s what you need to know about restrictions where you are.

Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Which parts of England should I not travel to?

After a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases, people in Bolton, Burnley, Kirklees, Bedford, Leicester, Blackburn with Darwen, Hounslow and North Tyneside are being asked to adhere to new guidance “where possible”.

While people in the rest of England can now meet indoors, people in these areas are strongly advised to only meet outdoors and continue social distancing from those in other households.

People should also avoid travelling in and out of these areas other than for essential purposes such as work.

Local authorities are ramping up targeted measures to stem the spread in these regions, encouraging people to take free lateral flow tests twice a week while reminding locals to work from home if they can and get vaccinated when they are offered an appointment.

How is lockdown changing across the rest of England?

People in England outside the affected areas can now meet indoors in groups of up to six people from two households, with overnight stays permitted. A maximum of 30 people can gather outdoors, including in private gardens.

New social distancing guidance for private spaces leave social distancing decisions – such as hugging loved ones from different households – up to personal choice.

All non-essential retail is now open, as well as hairdressers and beauty salons, while those who can work from home should continue to do so. This also means that Big Issue sellers are back on their pitches after a long spell without selling the magazine.

Pubs and restaurants can now serve food and alcohol indoors, with table service only, but without the need to have a “substantial meal” alongside alcohol as rules stated before Christmas. There is also no curfew.

As before, customers must social distance and wear a mask when moving around the premises.

Cinemas, theatres, museums and sports stadiums can all reopen with limited crowd numbers.

Up to 30 people can attend weddings, funerals and other life events.

Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription. 

Elsewhere, residents at care homes, which were heavily affected by the first months of the pandemic, can now have up to five named visitors. Driving lessons and tests are back on too.

Gyms, spas and libraries are open, and self-contained holiday accommodation can now host groups if they are all from the same household. Zoos, botanic gardens and safari parks are open as well.

Hotels, B&Bs and hostels can now open.

Restrictions on crossing the borders between England, Wales and Scotland have also been lifted. 

Schools reopened to all age groups on March 8.

What happens next?

The next step of lockdown easing, previously forecast for June 21, is intended to see all rules on social contact removed and nightclubs allowed to reopen.

Reaching step four of England’s route out of lockdown is dependent on the vaccine rollout going smoothly. The key piece of evidence here is that vaccinations are doing a good job of cutting Covid-19 hospital admissions and deaths.

The government will be watching for new infections as well as hospital admissions and deaths to stabilise before deciding if the June 21 reopening can go ahead as planned. 

How is lockdown easing in Wales?

Pubs and restaurants are allowed to serve customers indoors again. People can meet in hospitality venues in groups of up to six people from six households, with children younger than 11 not counted in the total.

Only extended households can socialise indoors at home, meaning two households can meet inside without social distancing as long as they are not also mixing with other households indoors.

Up to 30 people can attend indoor events such as weddings, or 50 outdoors, while all holiday accommodation is fully open.

Cinemas, theatres, museums and bingo halls are open.

All retail and close-contact services (such as hairdressers) are open, as well as self-contained holiday accommodation.

Indoor exercise classes and other indoor activities for adults recently resumed for up to 30 people, rising to 50 outdoors.

Schools are now open to all age groups.

From Monday June 7, three households can form an extended household which will allow them to meet at home without social distancing. Current restrictions only allow this arrangement between two households.

Up to 30 people will be allowed to gather outdoors, whether in a public space or in a garden, while outdoor gigs and sport events can take place with 4,000 people standing or 10,000 sitting.

How is lockdown easing in Scotland?

The Scottish government has put much of the mainland’s reopening on pause. Most of the country was due to enter level one restrictions from June 7, but a rise in cases driven by the Delta variant pushed officials to reconsider.

From June 5, Glasgow – previously held under tighter restrictions due to high infection numbers – will move to level two, meaning up to six people from up to three households can meet indoors at home without social distancing. 

No more than eight people from eight different households can gather outdoors.

The areas staying in level two, rather than dropping to level one, are: Edinburgh, Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Stirling.

In these areas, children under 12 do not count towards the total number of people in a group but they do factor in to the limit on different households meeting.

Pubs and restaurants can serve alcohol indoors until 10.30pm, with customers allowed to meet in groups of up to six people from three households.

Cinemas and theatres are now open – or will open in Glasgow – and indoor group exercise can restart.

People are allowed to travel anywhere in Scotland, Wales and England, though those going to or from Scottish islands are encouraged to take two lateral flow tests before travelling.

Other areas are moving from level two to level one, including Highland, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, East Lothian, West Lothian, West Dunbartonshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

People there can meet at home in groups of six from up to three households, or groups of eight from three households in an indoor public place such as a bar or cafe. Indoor hospitality can serve people until 11pm.

Twelve people from a maximum of twelve households can meet outdoors, while up to 100 people can attend weddings and funerals.

Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and a number of remote islands will move to level zero, meaning eight people from four households can meet at home indoors. 

A maximum of 10 people from four households can get together in indoor hospitality, while 15 people from 15 households can meet outdoors.

Up to 200 people can attend weddings and funerals.

Can I travel abroad from the UK?

People who live in England, Scotland and Wales are now permitted to travel outside of  Britain, with a traffic light system used to determine where people can go without having to quarantine on their return.

But politicians have urged people only to travel abroad for essential reasons and avoid “amber” countries. A country’s place on the government’s green list does not necessarily mean it is open to holidaymakers and other visitors from abroad.

The rules for people travelling from England, Scotland and Wales are largely similar, meaning those going abroad must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test before they return, book another test for two days after their arrival in Britain and complete a passenger locator form, even if they have received the vaccine.

The government is advising against travel to amber countries but it is no longer illegal to do so.

Anyone who does return from an amber-listed country must have proof of a negative test before they leave for Britain, book another two tests for day two and day eight after their arrival, and quarantine for 10 days once back in the country.

People are not permitted to travel to countries on the red list, which includes Turkey, India and South Africa.

People who have been in one of these countries in the last 10 days can only return to the UK if they are a UK or Irish national or a UK resident.

The requirements are the same as for those returning from amber countries, but people must also self-isolate for 10 days in a hotel costing £1,750 for one adult.