Last reviewed 29 June 2020

The changes to restrictions concerning the coronavirus differ between the four nations of the UK. This article covers the changes in England first and then outlines the changes or differences in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Social Distancing

From 4 July the two metre social distancing rule will be relaxed. The recommendation is that people should remain two metres apart where possible, but where it is not possible the distance can be reduced to one metre where other precautions are taken to reduce the risk of transmission of infection (the so-called one metre plus rule). Precautions can include:

  • Changing office layouts to avoid face-to-face seating, using back-to-back or side-to-side seating.

  • Reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces.

  • Improving ventilation.

  • Installing protective screens and providing face masks or visors and providing hand sanitiser.

  • Increasing the frequency of hand washing.

  • Closing non-essential social spaces.

  • Allow as many people as possible to work from home.

  • Introducing and changing shift patterns so that fewer people work together and ensure staff work in set teams/team partnering.

  • Using face masks on public transport.

Where people are more susceptible to Covid-19 (having underlying health conditions) particular care needs to be taken to ensure their safety.

Businesses that can open

A number of businesses can open from 4 July in England. This includes:

  • Restaurants and pubs.

  • Hair salons and barbers.

  • Hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites.

  • Leisure facilities and tourist attractions including:

    • Outdoor gyms.

    • Outdoor playgrounds.

    • Cinemas.

    • Museums.

    • Galleries.

    • Animal attractions, including indoors, such as zoos, aquariums, farms, safari parks and wildlife centres.

    • Theme parks, funfairs, adventure parks, outdoor skating rinks, model villages and arcades.

    • Libraries.

    • Social clubs.

    • Community centres.

These can open as long as the Covid-19 secure guidelines can be met. It will be necessary to ensure that the one metre plus distancing is adhered to and that all communal areas are cleaned regularly.

Service in the hospitality sector will be limited to table service indoors and businesses are advised to introduce systems for taking orders from the table, perhaps using mobile phone apps. Contact details of customers are to be maintained by hospitality businesses. Most food and drink businesses were already permitted to offer takeaway services but the Government announced on 25 June measures to allow, in England and Wales, pubs and restaurants to use car parks and terraces as dining and drinking areas using their existing seating licences, removing the need to apply for additional licences. In addition, temporary changes to the licencing laws are being made to allow more licenced premises to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises.

Hotels and accommodation providers are required to introduce deep cleaning regimes between guests and meal services including breakfast need to be pre-booked and timed. Similarly, timed tickets will be required for exhibitions, theme parks, galleries and attractions to control the number of visitors in any one location at a time. As with retail premises one-way systems with clear floor markings and queue management systems will be required. Cashless payments will be encouraged. Deep cleaning regimes will also be required at visitor attractions and some interactive displays will be closed.

More detailed guidance regarding social distancing PPE and deep cleaning for visitor attractions and hotel accommodation is at and

Weddings are also now permitted with a maximum of 30 attendees. Places of worship are allowed to hold services but singing is not permitted.

Theatres and music halls are not allowed at this stage to hold live performances.

Public transport is to be avoided as much as possible and when used a face mask should be worn. Employers are to encourage working from home and use shift patterns to ease congestion on public transport.

Sports and recreational facilities will be permitted from 4 July but indoor facilities including changing rooms and courts will remain closed. This will permit sports such as tennis to be played, but close contact sports should only be played with household members.

As has already been announced, non-essential retail premises were permitted to be opened in June provided they meet the Covid-19 secure guidelines. Also opened in June were outdoor attractions such as drive-in cinemas and animal attractions. These retail premises will only be able to open following a risk assessment and in consultation with union representatives or workers that they are managing the risk. This includes contractors or others sharing the workplace. The risk assessment should be put on the business’s website and the government expects the business to do this where there are more than 50 employees.

The Covid-19 secure guidelines can be found at

Government guidance for each business on how to reopen safely can be found at and

Businesses that cannot open yet

The government has stated that “close proximity” venues in England are to remain closed. These will also be closed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as these nations have not yet announced significant easing to their lockdowns.

The following are to remain closed:

  • Nightclubs.

  • Casinos.

  • Bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks.

  • Indoor play areas.

  • Spas, nail bars and beauty salons.

  • Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours.

  • Indoor fitness and dance studios, indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities, swimming pools and water parks.

  • Exhibition or conference centres.

Exhibition and conference centres can remain open for those who work at that venue. All but indoor sports facilities including changing rooms and courts are to remain closed.

There has been an indication that gyms and leisure facilities may reopen in mid-July and discussions are being held to determine when choirs, orchestras and theatres can resume live performances.

Cafes, restaurants and shops that are part of these businesses (such as a café in an indoor gym) that are self-contained and can be accessed from the outside, will be permitted to open.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has announced it will reduce the social distancing requirement to 1 metre from Monday 29 June. Holiday accommodation was also permitted to open from 26 June. Indicative dates have been given for the opening of a number of businesses such as:

3 July - Betting shops.

6 July - Close contact services such as spas, massage services, tattoo parlours, holistic therapies and reflexology.

10 July - Indoor gyms and outdoor playgrounds.

16 July – Libraries.

17 July - Competitive sport with limited numbers of outdoor spectators (numbers to be increased from 31 July).

29 July – Seated indoor venues such as bingo halls, cinemas, theatres and arcades.

7 August - Indoor sports courts, skating rinks, leisure centres and soft play areas.

28 August Socially-distanced indoor spectators can return to sporting events.

Late-August - Open air museums.

The Northern Ireland government has issued guidance on opening at


Scotland is currently retaining the 2 metre social distancing requirement. People are expected to stay local and only travel up to five miles for leisure activities. This travel distance is expected to be relaxed on 3 July. Employees are to work from home unless it is not reasonably possible to work from home. Outdoor workplaces were permitted to open from 29 May. From 22 June the construction sector was permitted to resume work.

Indicative dates have been given for opening of businesses subject to any relevant guidance for PPE, cleaning, staff safety and distance control of customers. This guidance can be found at

29 June

Indoor workplaces such as factories, laboratories and research facilities, but excluding non-essential offices.

Outdoor markets and retail with street access but shopping centres remain closed other than for non-essential shops.

Outdoor sports courts.

Zoos and garden attractions for local access only.

3 July

Self-catering accommodation and second homes (without shared facilities).

6 July

Outdoor hospitality, such as beer gardens, subject to physical distancing rules.

13 July

Dental practices for non-aerosol routine care.

Optometry practices.

Non-essential shops inside shopping centres.

15 July

All holiday accommodation.

Indoor hospitality (pubs and restaurants).

Hairdressers and barbers with enhanced hygiene measures.

Museums, galleries, cinemas, monuments and libraries with physical distancing.

Childcare providers subject to individual provider arrangements.


Wales is maintaining the 2 metre distancing rule and restricts travel to five miles other than for compassionate reasons. Non-essential shops open on 22 June. Similar to the rules in other parts of the UK there will be screens at tills and floor markings to help with social distancing. Staff on doors will control the numbers entering the shops. Extra deep cleaning is required and hand sanitiser will be at the doors. Public toilets and changing rooms will be closed. Outdoor sports courts and tracks will be opened for non-contact sports and places of worship will be opened for private prayer.

Other businesses must remain closed including pubs restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities. A decision regarding reopening self-contained accommodation will be made at the next review of regulations on 9 July.

Guidance from the Welsh government can be found at

International Travel

Currently there is a requirement for 14 days quarantine when a person returns to the UK from international travel. This is to be relaxed from 6 July. The list of countries that qualify for the relaxed requirements will be published shortly but it is thought to include Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Turkey. It is not expected that Sweden, Portugal or the USA will be on the list. On return to the UK travellers will have to provide the address where they plan to stay on their return from overseas. Travellers will be required to wear face masks on planes and ferries.