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As Scotland reveals its roadmap out of lockdown, here’s what’s happening across the UK

Written by on 22/02/2021

Scotland’s stay-at-home order will be lifted on 2 April as part of a gradual easing of the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Different parts of the UK are relaxing COVID-19 rules at different times.

Here is the current state of play.


Boris Johnson has previously outlined four steps to easing England’s lockdown.

The prime minister hopes to be able to lift the majority of rules by 21 June, but this is dependent on cases, deaths and hospital admissions continuing to fall so the dates are the earliest any of the stated rules could be lifted.

There will be no regional tier systems – England will be treated as one in the easing of lockdown.

The first step:

England’s school pupils returned to the classroom on 8 March and outdoor after-school sports and activities were also allowed to resume.

Socially distanced one-to-one meetings outdoors in public spaces are now allowed and care home residents are permitted a nominated visitor under certain conditions.

The next step – 29 March:

  • The rule of six returns, along with new measures meaning two households (no more than six people) can meet outdoors, including in private gardens
  • Outdoor organised sport will return
  • The government will drop the “stay at home” message and will instead encourage people to stay local
  • People will still have to work from home where possible and no overseas travel, apart from necessary work, will be allowed

12 April

This is the earliest date on which shops, hairdressers, gyms, nail salons, libraries, and outdoor attractions such as theme parks will be allowed to reopen. But no indoor mixing of different households will be allowed.

  • Outdoor hospitality can reopen, including pubs and restaurants – with the rule of six or a larger group from two households
  • Customers will not have to buy a substantial meal to have an alcoholic drink and there will be no curfew but people will have to be seated when ordering and eating or drinking
  • Self-catering holidays in the UK with your own household will be allowed
  • Funerals of up to 30 people. Weddings and wakes of up to 15 people

17 May:

  • Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted, but gatherings of more than 30 will be illegal
  • Indoors, the rule of six or a larger group of up to two households will be allowed
  • Indoor hospitality – pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls, children play areas, hotels, B&Bs, indoor exercise classes – will be allowed
  • Advice on social distancing between family and friends, including hugging, will be updated no later than 17 May
  • Large indoor performances and sporting events with a capacity of 1,000 people will be allowed
  • Outdoor large performances and sporting events will have a maximum capacity of 4,000 people or must only be half full, whichever is lower
  • Bigger sports stadiums will be allowed 10,000 people or can only be a quarter full, whichever is lower
  • Testing will be used to support these openings
  • Weddings, wedding receptions, wakes, funerals and christenings will be allowed with 30 people.

21 June:

  • All legal limits on social contact removed
  • Government hopes to reopen nightclubs and lift restrictions on large events such as festivals
  • Testing could be used as a condition of entry
  • Ministers hope to remove restrictions on weddings
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Yet to be decided

There are a few rules and issues that have not yet been agreed and will be subject to review during the easing of lockdown.

1. The one-metre plus rule, mandatory facemasks and working from home

The government hopes to conclude a review of this before step four.

2. Whether you can use proof of having a COVID-19 vaccine to enter mass events

The government hopes to set out the conclusion of a review prior to step four on whether vaccine or test certificates could be used to reopen the rest of the economy.

3. International travel

The government has said this will not resume before 17 May following a review that will be completed by 12 April.

4. Major events

The government has said testing could be used to ensure people can safely attend large events.

Young people enjoy a drink in a pub


Scots are now allowed to meet in bigger groups – up to four people from two households were given permission to meet outdoors from Friday, 12 March.

For children aged between 12 and 17, outdoor meetings are now limited to four people, but these can be from up to four households.

26 March:

  • Communal worship resumes, with a limit for services rising from 20 people to 50 people

2 April:

  • The stay-at-home order will be lifted and replaced with guidance to “stay local”, with the hope this will be in place for no more than three weeks

5 April

  • The phased reopening of non-essential retail will begin
  • Barbers and salons will be able to reopen, along with click-and-collect retail services, garden centres, car dealerships and homeware stores will also reopen
  • More students will be able to return to face-to-face learning, particularly those in college, with those at risk of not finishing their courses the priority

26 April

  • Scotland will come out of lockdown and into a “modified Level 3”
  • Indoor hospitality venues will allowed to serve alcohol
  • Travel restrictions across the country will end

17 May

  • Scotland will move from Level 3 to Level 2
  • Indoor socialising set to be allowed, with four people from two households permitted to gather
  • Rules around outdoor mixing also set to be eased further


  • Scotland will move to Level 1 at the start of the month, before dropping to Level 0 before the end of June
  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she cannot say when restrictions will be scrapped entirely.


13 March:

  • The “stay at home” order is lifted but people have been told to remain local
  • Four people from two households can meet outdoors to socialise, including in gardens
  • Outdoor sports facilities, including basketball courts, tennis courts, and golf course, can reopen and be used by four people from up to two households
  • Indoor care home visits restart for nominated family members
what is herd immunity?

15 March:

  • Hairdressers and barbers can reopen for appointments
  • All primary pupils and those in qualifications years can return to schools
  • Schools will have the option of bringing Year 10 and 12 learners back and “flexibility” to allow all other pupils to “check-in” with teachers on a limited number of days

22 March:

  • Non-essential retail will reopen gradually
  • Restrictions will be lifted on what can be sold in shops which are currently open
  • Garden centres will reopen

27 March:

  • The “stay local” rule will be lifted
  • Self-contained accommodation can reopen, but Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford said the industry “should not be taking bookings from people who live outside Wales”.
  • Libraries reopen

12 April:

  • All students return to face-to-face learning
  • All “close contact services” reopen
  • All non-essential retail reopens
Travel quarantine graphic

Northern Ireland

Lockdown restrictions were introduced on 26 December and extended to 1 April by the Stormont Executive, with a review due on 18 March.

Thousands of primary school pupils in year groups P1 to P3 returned to face-to-face learning on 8 March, along with pre-schoolers and nursery children.

22 March:

  • Secondary school pupils in key exam years – year groups 12-14 – return

The plan for gradually exiting lockdown does not include target dates, with decisions on moving between stages to be based on scientific and medical evidence, ministers have said.

All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from 21 June, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.

 Sky News

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