New restrictions to control the spread of Omicron are coming in across large parts of the UK after Christmas, though Boris Johnson has yet to decide if he will impose fresh curbs in England. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, here are the rules that will apply.
Wales – from 26 December
From Boxing Day, a maximum of six people are allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales. A total of 30 people are allowed at indoor events while 50 people will be permitted at outdoor events.
Two-metre social distancing is required in public premises and offices, and nightclubs will close. The rules come into force from 6am.
Scotland – from 26-27 December
Restrictions begin on Boxing Day in Scotland, where indoor events are limited to 100 people standing or 200 people sitting, and outdoor events are capped at 500 people. One-metre social distancing will be enforced.
From 27 December, there will be additional rules on household mixing. Groups must be limited to three households. There will also be social distancing of 1 metre enforced in hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants, as well as theatres, cinemas and gyms. Table service will be required in venues that serve alcohol.
Northern Ireland – from 26-27 December
Nightclubs have been closed and indoor standing events are banned. Further restrictions come in from 27 December, when table service will be mandatory in pubs, cafes and restaurants. A maximum of six people will be permitted to be seated together in hospitality settings. More than six will be permitted if they all belong to a single household, as long as it is not more than 10.
People are strongly advised to limit the number of contacts and to gather in groups of no more than three households.
Ministers are expected to meet to discuss further restrictions on Monday – though there is no guarantee rules will change. Government sources have said they expect schools to remain open.
The government has been given modelling by Sage scientists which look at the effects of returning to stage 2 restrictions – which include the closure of indoor hospitality but allow pubs and restaurants to serve outdoors, as well as a ban on indoor mixing in homes and a return to the rule of six outdoors.
The models have examined imposing the measures for two weeks, four weeks and three months.