Covid restrictions: What is the latest situation across the UK nations?
Northern Ireland is taking its next gradual steps out of Covid lockdown from Thursday, while Wales has set out fresh dates for its own easing of restrictions.
It comes after the lifting of some measures in England earlier this week saw friends and family able to meet up again in small groups outside.
Here the PA news agency sets out what restrictions are being lifted and when other changes are expected in the coming weeks and months across the UK:
– What is changing from April 1 in Northern Ireland?
From Thursday in Northern Ireland, up to six people from no more than two households can now meet outdoors in a private garden.
Ten people, from no more than two households, are able to participate in outdoor sporting activities.
Golf courses can reopen, although clubhouses must remain closed, and click-and-collect purchases are also now allowed from garden centres and plant nurseries.
– What is the timetable in Wales?
The Welsh Government has said that, subject to favourable public health conditions, all close contact services and shops will be able to reopen from April 12, completing the phased reopening of non-essential retail.
All school pupils and post-16 learners could return to face-to-face teaching from the same date.
Outdoor hospitality, including cafes, pubs and restaurants, could reopen from Monday April 26.
The easing of hospitality restrictions will be confirmed alongside the reopening of outdoor attractions, including funfairs and theme parks, at an April 22 review of restrictions.
From May 3, organised outdoor activities and outdoor wedding receptions for up to 30 people can take place.
A week later, on May 10, gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities can reopen for individual or one-to-one training but not exercise classes.
From the same date rules will also allow two households to meet and have contact indoors.
The Government said it will make preparations so that whichever party leads the country after the May 6 Welsh Parliament election could consider allowing children’s indoor activities, community centres, and organised indoor activities for adults for up to 15 people to resume from May 17.
After May 17, considerations could be made to enable indoor hospitality and remaining visitor accommodation to reopen in advance of the spring bank holiday.
– What happened in England this week?
On Monday, rules in England were eased to allow groups of up to six people, from any number of households, or a group of any size from up to two households, to gather in parks and gardens
The Government’s “stay at home” order ended, with messaging moving to “stay local”, but people are asked to continue to work from home where possible, and overseas travel remains banned.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts reopened, with organised adult and children’s sport – including grassroots football – able to return.
– When will more restrictions be eased in England?
From April 12 at the earliest, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen.
Most outdoor attractions, such as zoos and theme parks, can reopen, although wider social distancing rules will still apply to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools will also be opened but for use by people on their own or in household groups.
Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise from six to 15.
– What happens next in England?
From no earlier than May 17 most social contact rules outside will be lifted, although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.
Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply – although the Government has said it will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
Limited crowds will also be allowed at sporting events.
All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from June 21, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.
– How is the Government deciding when to lift restrictions in England?
There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step of easing restrictions in England to allow for coronavirus-related data to be assessed against four tests:
1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing the number admitted to hospital and deaths in those vaccinated.
3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions, which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
4. The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
– And what about Scotland?
Outdoor mixing between four people from up to two households is already allowed, along with outdoor non-contact sports and organised group exercise.
Communal worship was permitted from March 26, with a maximum congregation of 50 people, after a judge ruled coronavirus regulations that forced their closure were unlawful.
The country’s “stay at home” order is to be removed on April 2, with Scots instead advised to “stay local”.
From April 5, click-and-collect retail services, along with garden centres, car dealerships, homeware stores and barbers and hairdressers, will also be able to reopen.
Scotland will then move out of lockdown and return to a levels system – starting with a “modified level three” – on April 26.
On the same date, travel restrictions across the country will be dropped, and a host of other venues allowed to reopen, including libraries, museums and galleries, gyms and pools.