What are the new COVID-19 restrictions?

Blogs 23 Sep 2020

A roundup of the restrictions across the UK which were announced on 22 September 2020


Following the Prime Minister's address to MPs in the House of Commons on 22 September, the following restrictions are to be implemented in England to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further measures have also been announced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There is not a general instruction to stay at home, as was the case back in March, and businesses can remain open as long as they are COVID-secure.

What has changed?
  • People who can work from home should do so. Where this is not possible, businesses should operate in a COVID-secure way.
  • The rule of six will have the number of exemptions reduced. For example, indoor team sports will not be allowed.
  • Plans for the public to return to sporting events, exhibitions and business conferences have been placed on hold.
  • Penalties for not wearing a face covering or adhering to the rule of six will incur a fine of £200 which will increase for repeat offences.
  • The number of people allowed at weddings and wedding receptions, has been reduced to 15; the number allowed at funerals remains at 30.
Changes in the hospitality industry
  • From 24 September, all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate on a table service basis only.
  • All hospitality venues must close by 10pm (not last orders). This is a legal requirement and will incur fines for the business if not adhered to.
  • Takeaways must also close at 10pm, but can offer delivery after this time.
  • Staff and customers in indoor hospitality must wear a face covering, unless seated at a table to eat or drink.
Changes to retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors
  • Retail staff required to wear a face covering
  • COVID-secure guidelines are now legal obligations with businesses being fined or closed if they breach these rules.
Face coverings
  • Passengers travelling in taxis and minicabs must also wear face coverings.
  • The penalty for not wearing a face covering has been increased to £200 which will increase for repeat offences.
Areas with local restrictions
  • Local areas may face additional restrictions should the national advice fail to reduce the number of cases. You can check a list of areas currently under local restrictions here.
  • Guidance continues to be that you don’t need to shield, except in local lockdown areas.
How long will the restrictions be in place?

Boris Johnson has said these are likely to continue for six months.

Changes in Scotland

New restrictions are to be implemented in Scotland, following an address from the First Minister. Full guidance on new measures can be found here.

  • From Friday 25th September Pubs, restaurants and all hospitality settings will be required to close at 10pm
  • Table Service will continue to be required in hospitality settings
  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet in public indoor spaces such as cafes, pubs and restaurants, children under 12 do not count towards the limit.
  • Do not meet people from any other households in your home or another person’s home socially, unless they are in your extended household, there are some exemptions for childcare and tradespeople
  • A maximum of six people from two households can meet in outdoor spaces, this does not apply to under 12s.
  • A maximum of six 12 to 17 year olds can meet in outdoor spaces, with no household limit. Physical distancing is still required
  • You must continue to work from home where practicable
  • You should only car share with members of your own, or extended, household, and follow guidance when there is no alternative

Changes in Wales

New restrictions are to be implemented in Wales, following an address from the First Minister.

  • From Thursday 24th September at 6pm pubs, restaurants and all hospitality settings will be required to close at 10pm
  • Hospitality businesses must operate table service only from Thursday 24th September at 6pm.
  • Off-licences, including supermarkets, will also have to stop selling alcohol at 10pm
  • You must work from home wherever possible
  • You can only meet six people indoors, and make sure that those six people are all part of your extended household. This does not apply in Caerphilly, Rhonnda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent or Newport where local restrictions are in force and people can only meet outdoors at the moment.

Changes in Northern Ireland

New restrictions were implemented in Northern Ireland from 22nd September.

  • No mixing of households in private dwellings, exemptions for caring responsibilities and business among others apply.
  • No more than six people to gather in a private garden from no more than two households - children aged 12 and under do not count towards the limit
  • Households are no longer allowed to mix indoors in private homes.
  • Up to six people from no more than two households can meet up outdoors in a private garden, but you should maintain social distancing.
  • Gatherings indoors or outdoors, not in a private dwelling, of up to 15 people are permitted.