How do Covid restrictions compare around the UK for New Year’s Eve?

The latest on coronavirus restrictions for New Year’s Eve in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Catherine Lough
Friday 31 December 2021 08:24
Mounted police in central London, where the New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been cancelled (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Mounted police in central London, where the New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been cancelled (Jonathan Brady/PA)

New Year’s Eve celebrations are likely to be somewhat muted across the country on Friday, as revellers adapt to a raft of different restrictions in EnglandScotland Wales and Northern Ireland.

Here the PA news agency outlines how the restrictions compare in the different UK nations.

– How will New Year’s Eve be different in England this year?

Partygoers hoping to watch the traditional firework display for New Year’s Eve in London will be disappointed as the mayor, Sadiq Khan cancelled the Trafalgar Square event due to the surge in Omicron cases.

Revellers have been asked to watch a live TV broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, which organisers say will celebrate the city and highlight defining moments from the past year.

From December 15, Covid passes for entry into nightclubs and other venues have been in place, and this also applies to indoor events with 500 or more people, where they are likely to stand or move around, such as in music venues.

New Year’s Eve celebrations in central London have been cancelled (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Face coverings been made compulsory in most indoor public settings, as well as on public transport.

The Government has also said that those celebrating in Scotland are free to travel south of the border to take advantage of looser restrictions in England, where nightclubs remain open.

Work and Pensions Minister Chloe Smith said people are “more than free to move around” the UK over the New Year on Thursday.

Asked if it would be wrong for people from Scotland to travel across the border into England to celebrate the New Year, Ms Smith told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “Well, I think perhaps I should just add the obvious constitutional point here, which is that we are one country and people are more than free to move around inside our country under the general law, obviously.”

But the Government has also urged caution.

During a visit to a vaccination centre in Milton Keynes on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to get tested before New Year’s Eve festivities.

He said: “Everybody should enjoy New Year but in a cautious and sensible way – take a test, ventilation, think about others but, above all, get a booster.”

– What will the celebrations be like in Scotland?

In Scotland, events have one-metre social distancing and are limited to 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors, with one-metre physical distancing in place in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings. These restrictions include gatherings for Hogmanay celebrations.

Where alcohol is being served, table service is also required.

There is also guidance against travelling south of the border, contradicting England’s approach.

On Wednesday, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that while there was nothing to stop people heading across the border to England, where nightclubs are still open, it would be the “wrong course of action” and would go against the “spirit” of the regulations.

The limit on the number of people who can take part in events has seen New Year’s Eve street parties cancelled, including the one planned for Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government has urged people to “stay at home as much as possible”, with any meet-ups to be limited to a maximum of three households.

Since December 14, people have been asked to reduce their social contact as much as possible by meeting in groups of no more than three households.

-What will celebrations look like in Northern Ireland?

It has already been announced that nightclubs will be closed on Friday for New Year’s Eve, while dancing is banned in hospitality venues.

Nightclubs in Northern Ireland are closed for New year’s Eve (Liam McBurney/PA)

For those venturing out to restaurants, table numbers must be limited to six people and diners must remain seated for table service.

– What is happening in Wales?

Current rules say groups of no more than six are allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants, while licensed premises can offer table service only.

In pubs and other licensed premises, face masks should be worn, with contact tracing details collected, and customers should observe two-metre social distancing rules.

Nightclubs have been closed since Boxing Day in Wales. A maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 people can be present for outdoor events.

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