Coronavirus: The different rules for meeting friends and family across the UK

Joe Gamp
·Contributor, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read
Golfers, wearing protective masks, bump elbows at Rookwood Golf Club, Horsham, Sussex, after golfers return to play as restrictions are lifted in England, as the UK continues in lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic.
Each UK nation has unveiled different plans to emerge from lockdown, with differing approaches to meeting family and friends. (PA)

Different parts of the UK are easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions in different ways, with specific guidance on meeting family and friends.

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are taking varying approaches to restrictions following Boris Johnson revealing a three-stage COVID-19 Strategy to lifting lockdown in England.

Following the prime minister unveiling his government’s new “stay alert” slogan, other devolved administrations rejected the changes as “confusing” and criticised varying aspects, including his instructions for people to return to work.

As such, the leaders of the devolved governments said they would follow their own timelines for easing lockdown.

People observing social distancing on a bench in Hyde Park, London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
People observing social distancing on a bench in Hyde Park, London. (AP)

Here, we run through each UK nation’s current social distancing rules and how they are being adapted.

Scotland

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined a four-phase plan to lift lockdown, which will begin May 28.

From that point, people will be able to meet people from one other household outside - but will be expected to maintain the 2metre social distancing rule.

Non-contact outdoor sports such as such as golf, tennis, bowls and fishing will resume, as well as dwelling in parks and sunbathing.

Recreational trips within five miles will be permitted, but walking or cycling wherever possible is preferred.

Outdoor businesses and garden centres will also reopen from 28 May - but schools will not reopen until 11 August at the earliest.

Commuters, some wearing protective masks to protect against coronavirus walk on London Bridge, in London, Monday, May 18, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Sunday that people could return to work if they could not work from home. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Boris Johnson encouraged people in England to start returning to work. (AP)

England

Boris Johnson’s announcement on 10 May came with a new slogan: “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives.”

The change was criticised by Sturgeon, who said he should make it clear the changes only applied to England.

He went beyond allowing more exercise and encouraged people to return to work in sectors such as construction.

Rules around socialising were also changed, with people in England allowed to meet one person from outside their household, providing distancing is maintained.

Meanwhile, the government aims to see some children in England return to school from 1 June.

PENARTH, WALES - MAY 20: A social distancing sign written in the Welsh language is seen on a coastal path on May 20, 2020 in Penarth, Wales. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales maintained the 'Stay at home' slogan and extended lockdown measures (Getty Images)

Wales

First minister Mark Drakeford extended lockdown in Wales from 8 May - and made clear the “stay at home” message still applies there.

Currently, people in Wales can exercise outside more than once a day in kept - but people are advised to remain indoors “as much as possible.”

Police have had to take action in several cases when visitors from England have driven to scenic spots across the border.

EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 20: Police speak with members of the public as they enjoy the hottest day of the year on May 20, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The British government has started easing the lockdown it imposed two months ago to curb the spread of Covid-19, abandoning its 'stay at home' slogan in favour of a message to 'be alert', but UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
UK countries have varied in their approaches to relaxing quarantine measures. (Getty Images)

The Welsh Government has now increased fines for people who flout rules against non-essential travel, with a maximum penalty of £1,920.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething has said there could be changes to rules against outdoor meetings at a review of the lockdown next week, but details of the changes have not yet been confirmed.

Northern Ireland

A number of changes to social distancing measures were introduced in Northern Ireland on Monday, with the nation appearing to accelerate its path out of lockdown.

Handout photo issued by Press Eye of First Minister Arlene Foster during the daily media broadcast in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings in Stormont, Belfast.
Arlene Foster said different households in Northern Ireland can now meet outside in gatherings of four to six people. (AP)

People from different households can now meet outside in gatherings of four to six, while rive-in religious services are allowed and churches can be used for solitary prayer.

There were queues at garden centres and recycling facilities as they reopened from Monday this week.

Indoor gatherings of different households are still banned.

But first minister Arlene Foster said this was being kept under review as Northern Ireland takes “small steps” out of lockdown.

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