Nigel Farage predicts UK will be ‘in lockdown by September’
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The four nations of the UK have been exercising their devolved powers to enforce differing lockdown restrictions during the pandemic. England has been the first to lift its remaining restrictions as the devolved nations take a more tentative approach to unlock.
At first, there were attempts to maintain a unified UK-wide response to the virus, with restrictions kept the same throughout England and the devolved nations.
But, this plan soon failed after first ministers Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Arlene Foster rejected Boris Johnson’s “stay alert” slogan in the early stages of the pandemic.
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 adopt restrictions and faster to remove them.
With England being the first of the devolved nations to lift its lockdown restrictions when will Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland follow suit?
From July the whole of Scotland will move into “Level Zero.”
“Level Zero” will have tighter social distancing restrictions enforced than Freedom Day in England.
Lockdown restrictions will still be in place in Level Zero but some of the country’s stricter rules will be eased.
For example, physical distancing in Level 0 will reduce to one metre in all indoor public settings and outdoors.
Social gatherings of up to 15 will be permitted outdoors without the need to socially distance.
Whilst groups of up to 10 from four different households will be allowed to meet in all indoor public settings with one-metre physical distancing.
The nearest Scotland could come to England’s “Freedom Day” could be on August 9 when more substantial changes will be made.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commenting on Scotland’s plans out of lockdown said: “Up until now, the Scottish Government’s strategic intention has been to ‘suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there’”
She added: “Ultimately we hope to remove the legal requirement for physical distancing – even though we may continue to advise people to think about safe distancing when interacting with people outside their close contact groups.”
Similarly to Scotland Wales has also taken a more cautious approach than England in its unlocking.
From July 17 the country moved to alert “Level One”, this means some restrictions were eased but many remain in place.
Those in Wales can now meet with up to 6 people indoors in private homes and in holiday accommodation.
Organised events such as football matches for up to 1,000 seated or 200 standing can go ahead.
Legal restrictions on the number of people who can gather outdoors have been lifted.
Organisations for children such as Brownie and Scout groups can attend residential centres over the summer holidays in groups of up to 30.
Further restrictions will be eased from August 7 but like Scotland, this is not set in stone and could change if the pandemic conditions worsen.
If Wales’ current plan is realised the country will move to alert “Level Zero” from August 7.
This step is similar to England’s step four it will see the legal restrictions on the number of people who can meet indoors, including in private homes, public places or at events being lifted.
All businesses and premises will be allowed to reopen, including nightclubs, but the Government will still encourage people to work from home where possible.
Face masks will remain a legal requirement indoors, except in hospitality premises.
When Northern Ireland will lift its lockdown restrictions is unclear, it has been the slowest of the devolved nations to unlock.
An indicative date of July 26 has been set where some restrictions will be eased.
Unless the Covid situation worsens considerably from July 26, 15 people from any number of households will be permitted to meet in a private garden, those aged 12 and under aren’t included in that total.
This date is not fixed and will be subject to review on July 22.
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