Search icon


26th Dec 2021

New covid rules come into force today for three UK nations

Simon Bland


Boris Johnson hasn’t unveiled further restrictions for England – yet

Boxing Day sees new rules and restrictions come into play for three UK nations, each designed to help stop the spread of the Omicron variant.

As reported by the BBC, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each seen a new slew of curbs come into play from today in an attempt to slow the rising rate of coronavirus infections.

While covid figures weren’t reported over the festive period (including Christmas Day and Boxing Day), the last official report on Friday December 24 showed a new high of 122,186 cases in the UK. What’s more, according to the Office For National Statistics’ weekly random testing programme, one in 35 people – or approximately 1.74 million people – had covid seven days ago.

Despite these concerning stats, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yet to announce any new restrictions in England – but he has continued to state that he would not hesitate to act if he deemed it necessary.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have differing rules which come into play from Boxing Day however all of them impact the hospitality and leisure sectors, including pubs and restaurants, and feature limits on social gatherings and requirements for social distancing.

Starting from Boxing Day, indoor events in Scotland will be limited to 100 people standing or 200 people seated, with all outdoor events capped at 500 attendees. One metre social distancing will also be in effect at all public events, with pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms forced to enforce the one metre rule from December 27. Table service will come back into play from the 27 also, alongside social meetings limited to three households.

From Boxing Day in Wales, no more than six people can meet in cinemas, pubs and restaurants, a two-metre social distancing rule will be in effect for offices and public spaces, and nightclubs will be forced to close. Meanwhile, outdoor events will be limited to 50 people with a total capacity of 30 people for indoor events.

In Northern Ireland, nightclubs must close from Boxing Day, while indoor standing events are banned. From 6am on December 27, pubs, cafes and restaurants will be table service only, with no more than six attendees from different households allowed to sit together.

These new restrictions will impact Boxing Day football matches in both England and Scotland, with Scotland’s premiership limited to 500 attendees and the premiership’s Burnley vs Everton, Liverpool and Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Watford games all postponed.

Related links: