Are You Ready For The Coronavirus Restriction Changes?

Lockdown restrictions have begun to be eased across the UK, but do you know what is going to be allowed and when?

The next relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in England is due on 29th March, with more restrictions planned to be lifted on 12th April, and then every five weeks so long as targets for driving down coronavirus infections are met. The government says it will be ‘driven by data, not dates’

So far, schools and colleges have reopened, and university students have returned for practical courses. Two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include “a coffee on a bench”.

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Care home residents can have one nominated visitor, with testing and social distance precautions in place.

From 29th March, people will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens.

The ‘stay at home’ policy will end, but the government will urge people to stay local as much as possible, and no-essential retail will still be closed.

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Outdoor sport facilities will though reopen, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts, and formally organised outdoor sports can restart.

Weddings will be able to take place, but attended only by up to six people.

Stage 2

No earlier than 12th April, all shops will be allowed to open, along with close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauty salons (including in people’s homes).

Restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors, and gyms and spas can reopen, as can zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres.

International travel will still be restricted, but members of the same household will be allowed to take a holiday in England in self-contained accommodation.

Weddings will be allowed to take place, attended by up to 15 people.

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Stage 3

No earlier than 17th May, the rules will be relaxed again so that up to 30 people will be able to meet outdoors, and six people or two households can meet indoors.

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues will be allowed to seat customers indoors, and up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings or christenings.

Remaining outdoor entertainments such as outdoor theatres and cinemas will reopen, as will indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas.

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Performances and large events can restart, but with limits on audience numbers, and hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen, and adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can restart.

At this stage international leisure travel may resume, but this now seems unlikely with the series of lockdowns going on throughout Europe and elsewhere in the world.

Stage 4

No earlier than 21st June, all legal limits on social contact will be removed, there will be no legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other event, and nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.

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The Conditions

The government says that all these relaxations of restrictions are dependent on the coronavirus vaccine programme continuing to go to plan, with the number of people dying or needing hospital treatment reducing, and with infection rates posing no danger to the NHS.

The government will also be monitoring new coronavirus variants to see if they fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.


In Scotland, outdoor mixing between four people from up to two households is already allowed, along with outdoor non-contact sports and organised group exercise. Changes provisionally planned in the coming weeks include communal worship allowed to resume from 26th March, with up to 50 attending if social distancing permits; and from April 2nd, the ‘stay at home’ rule changes to ‘stay local’. From April 5th, there will be further relaxations of rules covering outdoor meetings, shops and hairdressers, and from April 26th, all schools should be open and Scotland returns to the ‘levels’ system of local restrictions. From May 17th, all areas of Scotland in level three move to level two, and hospitality venues return to “greater normality”, possibly serving alcohol indoors until 22:30.

Further relaxations in Scotland are planned for early June, and late June.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is currently under lockdown, but restrictions will begin to ease from April 1st, with outdoor exercise and sporting activities allowed and garden centres operating click-and-collet services. From 12th April remaining schools open, and the ‘stay at home’ message will be relaxed.


In Wales the ‘stay at home’ rule has already been replaced by ‘stay local’. Four people from two different households can meet up outdoors to socialise, including in gardens, and outdoor sports facilities can reopen.

Care home residents can receive one designated visitor and all primary school children and those in qualifications years can return to class. Hairdressers have reopened for appointments only.

There will be a gradual easing of rules around non-essential shopping and non-essential aisles in supermarkets, and from 12th April all shops and close-contact services will be able to open, and all pupils will return to school.

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