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Covid: Why does lockdown easing vary in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Nick Ferrari hits out at government’s ‘shambolic’ approach to covid

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Throughout the pandemic, the four nations of the UK have been exercising their devolved powers to enforce differing restrictions on their citizens. 

At first, there were attempts to maintain a unified UK-wide response to the virus, with pandemic restrictions being that same throughout England and the devolved nations.

But, these attempts soon failed after first ministers Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Arlene Foster rejected Boris Johnson’s “stay alert” slogan.

With outbreaks occurring in various parts of the UK, this divided approach would make sense.

Giving devolved nations the power to enforce restrictions could help to tackle outbreaks at a more localised level.

Approaches to the pandemic by each nation have been similar, but generally speaking, the devolved nations have imposed tougher restrictions faster, with England being slower to act.

So what are the four nation’s current plans for the final easing of restrictions?

England’s route out of restrictions

Boris Johnson announced in a No.10 press conference today that the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ would have to be postponed, due to concerns over the new Delta variant.

All lockdown restrictions were set to be lifted in England on June 21, that date has been pushed back by four weeks to Monday, July 19, England will remain in stage three until this date.

Northern Ireland’s route out of restrictions

June 21 was supposed to herald a large step forward towards the easing of restrictions in Northern Ireland.

This will be subject to a review on June 17.

The current plan is from June 21, 10 people from two households can meet in homes or up to 15 if a household has over six people in it.

Scotland’s route out of restrictions

Scotland has taken a different approach to the pandemic than England.

It lifts restrictions in ‘levels’ from zero to four, with level ‘zero’ meaning most restrictions are lifted apart from nightclubs and large venues cannot open.

Most of Scotland entered ‘level one’ on June 5, which is similar to the current restrictions in England.

Scots are allowed to meet inside in groups of eight or outside in groups of up to 12 people, with a generous 100 people allowed to attend weddings and funerals.

Nightclubs remain shut in level one and Scots are still urged to maintain two-metre social distancing and work from home where possible.

But, parts of Scotland such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling have been put into tier two due to spikes of coronavirus cases being recorded in these areas.

In level two people can only meet inside groups of up to six and in groups of up to eight outside, indoor hospitality, gyms and all shops can reopen and 50 people can attend weddings and funerals.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will provide an update on the easing of restrictions on Monday, June 21.

An announcement is also planned for June 28 – this was the planned date for a country-wide move to level 0, but with the cautious approach of Ms Sturgeon in the past this looks unlikely.

Wales’ route out of restrictions

Gathering outdoors of up to 10,000 people seated or 4,000 standing were allowed in Wales from June 7 and up to 30 can meet in any outdoor area.

Extended bubbles can be formed between three households.

Social distancing of two metres is still in place and face coverings are needed indoors.

Wales will review its lockdown measures on June 21.

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