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New Year’s Eve restrictions: What are the rules in my area?

Here’s what you need to know about the New Year’s Eve restrictions where you are as Omicron cases continue to soar

With 2022 just hours away, people across Britain are making tough decisions about their party plans as they navigate New Year’s Eve restrictions.

Covid-19 guidance varies between the devolved governments while uncertainty continues to surround the hugely infectious Omicron variant.

The UK racked up a record 189,213 cases of coronavirus on Thursday and the number of people being treated for the virus soared by more than 40 per cent in a week.

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Early data suggests the latest strain may be milder and lead to fewer hospitalisations, but scientists and politicians have stressed that the infectious nature of the variant could still overwhelm hospitals and more research must be done.

With politicians hesitant to reintroduce strict measures to cut cases and test supplies struggling to meet demand, many people have been left feeling unclear about how their party plans do or don’t fit into the rules.

Celebrations will look vastly different to last year’s lockdown New Year, but normality is still some way off. Here’s what you need to know about the New Year’s Eve restrictions where you are.

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England

While large events such as fireworks displays have been called off, people in England are largely free to celebrate New Year however they wish.

It’s welcome news for hospitality businesses, but the government recommends people tweak their plans to ensure they’re as safe as possible.

Masks are a requirement in most indoor settings and vaccine passes are mandatory for venues such as nightclubs and indoor standing events with at least 500 people in attendance.

“Everybody should enjoy New Year but in a cautious and sensible way,” Boris Johnson told reporters earlier this week.

“Take a test, ventilation, think about others but, above all, get a booster.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed there would be no new restrictions for England this year, but there are concerns the government could bring in stricter measures in early January.

Some warned people in the rest of Britain may decide to travel across the border to England, where they could bring in the new year in a nightclub.

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Scotland

Shortly before Christmas, Nicola Sturgeon issued guidance asking people to limit indoor mixing to a maximum of three households and “stay home much more than [they] normally would”.

While this remains guidance rather than a legal requirement – though laws have been introduced for employers to facilitate working from home – the first minister indicated she would go further if Holyrood could secure funding for financial support from Westminster.

Nightclubs are shut for at least three weeks and other hospitality venues such as pubs must operate using table service and one-metre social distancing.

Events capacity is limited to 100 people at indoor standing events, 200 people at indoor seated events and 500 people at outdoor events, effectively cancelling Hogmanay events including the Edinburgh street party. Most events still taking place will require a vaccine passport for entry.

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Wales

Like in Scotland, pubs must only serve customers at their tables and masks are required unless eating or drinking. A maximum of six people can gather and sit together in hospitality venues this New Year.

There are no official New Year’s Eve restrictions on how many households can mix indoors but the Welsh government put a limit of 30 people on attendance at indoor events, including in people’s houses.

“We are advising that you should think carefully about the number of people you meet,” officials said. “If you are meeting with different groups of people at different times, you should leave at least a day between those gatherings.”

Like the other administrations, the Welsh government is encouraging people to test regularly, particularly before and after mixing with other people.

Northern Ireland 

Private gatherings must be limited to a maximum of three households in Northern Ireland, meaning house parties should be a modest affair – though this is guidance rather than law.

Nightclubs are closed this New Year’s Eve, like in Scotland and Wales, and dancing is banned in hospitality venues.

No more than six people can sit together inside a pub, where it must be table service only.

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