BORIS Johnson has announced that England will drop domestic coronavirus restrictions in England, including the need to self-isolate after a positive Covid test.

The changes will be implemented within a matter of weeks, but Boris Johnson and his administration are coming under criticism for the plans as they come a month earlier than expected.

The current regulations were initially set to expire on March 24, but the Prime Minister has said he will end them in February as long as “encouraging trends” in the data continue and is preparing to present the plans for ‘living with Covid’ on February 21.

Face coverings are also no longer a legal requirement in England. With the remaining rules set to be abolished in England, the other four UK nations have yet to follow.

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all got slightly different restrictions in place for now, but what are the current rules in each country?


Basic requirements

Face masks are currently mandatory in Scotland in all indoor areas like shops, hospitality venues and public transport, but they can be removed while dancing drinking or dining.

This rule is a requirement for all adults and children over the age of 12, but there certain exemptions that apply.

Social distancing is still in place in certain areas such as healthcare setting like hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists.

Self-isolation & testing

All people in Scotland are being urged to carry out regular lateral flow tests (LFT) before engaging in social events.

If someone tests positive on an LFT without showing symptoms, they are not required to book a PCR test as previously needed but will begin isolating for a period of 7-10 days.

Self-isolation is permitted to end if the person can provide two consecutive negative LFTs on the sixth and seventh day. If the test remains positive, the person will need to see out the remaining time of isolating.

Those in the same household are not required to self-isolate immediately but they are required to take a LFT every day before leaving the house.


Pupils and teachers in secondary schools must continue to wear face coverings and the one-metre social distancing rule is still in place.

Although this only remains in place for another two weeks, with the First Minister announcing the end to face mask requirements for secondary pupils from February 28.


Basic requirements

Wales is currently at alert level zero. Under these rules most restrictions on daily life have been removed. The only basic requirement still in place are face masks which have to be worn in public indoor areas.

As of today, Wales will return to a three-week review cycle while the country remains at alert level zero.

Self-isolation & testing

Those who test positive for Covid will have to self-isolate for a minimum period of five days. In order to exit self-isolation, two negative results should be provided on day five and six.

The Welsh Government website indicates if a negative result isn’t shown on these days, the person must continue to isolate until they provide the result or exit isolation on day 10 – whichever is sooner.


Face masks are currently required in Welsh schools but are following the same measures as Scotland with the rules being dropped after the February mid-term, but it will be then up to the schools and councils to decide what restrictions remain in classes.

Pupils had the option of removing their face masks in exam halls as desks were ‘forward facing and talking restricted.

Northern Ireland

Basic Requirements

According to the Northern Irish Government website, the use of face coverings is required in all indoor settings accessible to the public across Northern Ireland. This includes shops, shopping centres, public, private and school transport services, taxis, airplanes, public transport stations and airports, banks, cinemas, and some government offices.

Covid certification for venues or events with over 500 people is still a legal requirement.

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister, Robin Swann, was expected to discuss removing rules on Thursday, but the meeting could not take place due to the resignation of DUP First Minister Paul Givan last week.

That prompted Mr Swann to seek legal advice on how to lift “now unnecessary restrictions” and “replace the bulk of the remaining restrictions, if not all of them, with clear guidance and advice”.

Self-isolation and testing

If someone tests positive for Covid, they should isolate for a period of 10 days in Northern Ireland. However if they provide two negative Covid results, they can exit isolation on day six.