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Covid restrictions for hospitality: what are the rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Covid infection rates are rising as the Omicron variant leads to further restrictions introduced around the UK

As the Omicron variant continues to spread through society, a tightening of Covid rules are being discussed across the UK.

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And, with infection rates increasing at a rapid rate, many people are making difficult decisions not to follow through with some Christmas plans in favour of protecting others.

Here’s what we know around the rules if visiting pubs, bars, restaurants or cafes in the UK.

What are the Covid rules for hospitality in England?

England continues to monitor the impact the current Covid wave of Omicron infections has on the hospitality sector and other businesses.

High case rates and a tightening of some restrictions, where face masks are to be worn in most public settings apart from pubs, restaurants and gyms, have led to cancelled bookings.

Most venues, including nightclubs, are legally required to check Covid status of all over 18. A Covid Pass - proof of double vaccination and negative test result - is now commonplace.

As businesses seek financial help, chancellor Rishi Sunak has been in contact with industry bosses to find a way forward amid the current wave of Covid cases threatening the NHS.

The Treasury launched a business rates holiday for hospitality, retail and leisure firms during the pandemic but this has been heavily reduced in recent months.

Meanwhile, hospitality VAT has increased to 12.5% from 5% in recent months, and is due to return to 20% in April.

What are the Covid rules for hospitality in Scotland?

Businesses across Scotland are legally required to take "reasonable measures" to minimise transmission of the virus.

Advice includes a return to one-way systems in premises, app-based ordering and the use of screens at service points.

The hospitality sector has been encouraged to return to table service where practical and to consider measures to reduce crowding.

Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an additional £100 million allocated "for the impact businesses are already suffering".

The hospitality sector will receive £66 million, culture £20 million, food and drink supply chain £8 million, and the wedding and tourism industries will receive £3 million each.

Ms Sturgeon called on the UK government to release more funds for struggling businesses.

What are the Covid rules for hospitality in Wales?

Wales first minister Mark Drakeford has not ruled out adding more Covid restrictions after Christmas, stating new legal measures will come into force from 27 December.

In a bid to slow down the spread of the Omicron variant, Mr Drakeford urged people to downsize their festive plans and said his own celebrations would be “modest”.

Wales is currently at Alert Level 2 and Mr Drakeford will bring rules back on social distancing, barriers and one way systems in businesses, and hinted at limiting different households to meet.

The ‘Rule of 6’ has not been ruled out, either, while Mr Drakeford said there "won’t be any parties at nightclubs on New Year’s Eve".

A £60 million support package for businesses affected by the new restrictions has also been announced, with more detail still to come on how funds can be claimed.

"A smaller Christmas will definitely be a safer Christmas," Mr Drakeford said. "Ours will be a modest Christmas. We’ll be staying at home."

What are the Covid rules for hospitality in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland followed suit in advising people to wear a face mask in most public settings and have put a limit of 30 people different households mixing in homes.

A Covid passport system for venues, including nightclubs, bars and cinemas, has also been introduced.

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