When will Covid restrictions end in UK? Date rules change in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

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Legal coronavirus restrictions in England and Northern Ireland have been replaced with guidance

All remaining coronavirus laws will end in England on Thursday, including the legal requirement for people who test positive to self-isolate.

The changes come after the Prime Minister set out the strategy for “living with Covid”, which will see the country move from government restrictions to “personal responsibility”.

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People in England are no longer legally required to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid (Photo: Getty Images)People in England are no longer legally required to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid (Photo: Getty Images)
People in England are no longer legally required to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid (Photo: Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Rules are also being eased across the rest of the UK, with both England and Northern Ireland advising people to follow guidance instead of legally enforceable restrictions.

If you are unsure of what measures are still in place around the country, these are all the key dates for rule changes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When do Covid rules end in England?

From Thursday 24 February, all remaining coronavirus laws in England will end.

This means people are no longer legally required to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid, but the official advice still remains that people who have the virus should stay at home for five days.

However, this guidance will not be enforced by law.

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The government is also no longer asking vaccinated contacts, and those under 18, to test for seven days, and has removed the legal requirement for contacts who are not vaccinated to self-isolate.

Free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing will also end for the general public in England from 1 April.

Remaining symptomatic testing will be focused on the most vulnerable, with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) set to determine the details.

Also from Thursday, face masks on public transport in London are no longer a condition of carriage following the “shift in the government’s approach” towards living with coronavirus.

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When will Covid rules end in Scotland?

Scotland’s mandatory Covid vaccine passport scheme has come to an end, with Scots no longer required to show their vaccination status to gain entry to nightclubs or large events from Monday 28 February.

Also from Monday, secondary school pupils will no longer have to wear face coverings in the classroom, but will still be required to do so in corridors.

The legal requirement to wear face masks in other settings, including on public transport and indoor venues, is expected to be dropped from 21 March, but the Scottish government will still “strongly recommend” people continue to use them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also made clear the Scottish government would “continue to ask those who test positive for Covid to isolate for the recommended period”.

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The requirement for businesses to retain customer contact details in case this is needed for contact tracing is also expected to end on 21 March.

Ms Sturgeon highlighted her “frustration at the position of the UK Government” on free testing and said the Scottish government will look to continue providing free lateral flow tests longer-term.

People are now being advised to do a lateral flow test twice a week, moving back from the position where the public were asked to do a test before meeting with other people.

When will Covid rules end in Wales?

Wales is expected to announce longer-term plans for living with Covid alongside the outcome of its latest review of regulations on 4 March.

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The country has been in Coronavirus Alert Level 0 since 28 January, meaning most of the rules on socialising have already ended.

On 18 February, the government scrapped also the requirement to show the NHS Covid pass to attend indoor and outdoor events and venues, such as cinemas, theatres and nightclubs.

Face masks are still a legal requirement on public transport and in some indoor places, including shops, GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes.

There are currently no formal plans to end self-isolation rules following a positive test in Wales, but Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething previously said it was possible all Covid restrictions in the country could be lifted by the end of March.

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When do Covid rules end in Northern Ireland?

Coronavirus legal restrictions have already been replaced with guidance in Northern Ireland.

Health Minister Robin Swann revoked the rules on 15 February, meaning people no longer need to wear face masks in public settings or show Covid certificates to gain entry to venues.

While the curbs were removed from law, they are being kept as official guidance.

Self-isolation guidance on infection has not changed, nor has the Executive’s “work from home where possible” message.

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Mr Swann said his department will “carefully consider” the Living With Covid plan unveiled in England.

He said that no decisions have been taken on any changes to test and trace in the region, but added the programme would remain “under review to ensure it remains proportionate and effective”.

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