The Rules Under The New Lockdown

Can I work from home? Am I allowed to go to work? Can I still have a bubble?

A breakdown of the new lockdown restrictions across the UK.

Britain will return to many of the toughest restrictions imposed in March as the new variant of coronavirus spreads rapidly nationwide.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that England will be placed under a third national lockdown in a televised address on Monday.

The new restrictions will come into law in the early hours of 6 January and are expected to last until mid-February, he said.

People in England should stay at home apart from collecting essential food supplies, attending medical appointments or getting a coronavirus test, providing childcare or caring for the vulnerable and exercising once a day.

They should work from home unless they are a key worker or cannot do their job from home.

Separate lockdown rules are being imposed by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Here is a breakdown of the restrictions across all four nations:


Stay at home

  • Everyone should stay at home unless they have a “reasonable excuse”
  • You can leave your house to buy food, collect essential supplies, attend medical appointments or get a coronavirus test, meet people as part of a support bubble, exercise once a day, provide care or to escape harm
  • Overnight stays are not allowed outside of a support bubble
  • People are allowed to visit people giving birth or dying
  • You are still allowed to move house, but people outside your household should not help you move
  • Estate agents are permitted to work and property viewings can still take place
  • You can leave home to offer voluntary or charitable services
  • These rules are being enforced by law, so you can be fined £200 if you break them, doubling to a maximum of £6,400

Exercising and meeting other people

  • You can leave your home to exercise outdoors once a day, but this should be within your local area
  • It can be done alone, with your household or support bubble or with one person from another household
  • You must be exercising when with anyone outside your household – not meeting for a picnic
  • Permitted outdoor areas for exercise include parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens, grounds of a heritage site and playgrounds
  • Indoor and outdoor gyms are closed, including leisure centres, sports courts, swimming pools and golf courses
  • Elite sports such as football can continue

Support bubbles and childcare

  • Adults living alone can still form support bubbles with another household
  • If you live with children under 14 you can form a childcare bubble to allow one other household to provide informal childcare
  • Divorced or separated parents can continue to share the care of their children


  • From 5 January all colleges, primary and secondary schools will move to remote working until February half-term
  • Vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers can continue going to school
  • University students will not be able to return to campus, but learning can take place remotely
  • In-person tuition can continue for a small number of practical courses such as medicine, nursing, social work and education
  • Exams will “not go ahead as planned this year”
  • Nurseries and childminders can remain open


  • You must work from home unless you are a key worker or are unable to do your job from home
  • Jobs that cannot be done remotely include medical workers, supermarket staff, construction workers and transport staff
  • You can also work inside other people’s homes if you are a nanny, tradesperson or cleaner


  • Those who previously shielded should not leave home apart from for exercise and medical appointments
  • Extremely clinically vulnerable should not work if unable to do so from home
  • They should also avoid crowded spaces


  • You must not travel anywhere unless you have a “reasonable excuse”
  • If you need to travel you must stay local and only leave home for essential purposes
  • You can only travel abroad if you are legally permitted to do so, for example for work purposes
  • If you are already on holiday, you should return home as soon as possible


  • All pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars closed
  • They are allowed to serve takeaway food and drink until 11pm
  • Takeaway or click and collect alcohol is no longer permitted
  • Close contact services closed
  • Indoor and outdoor entertainment venues closed
  • Hotels and holiday accommodation is allowed to remain open for a small number of guests
  • You should only stay in a hotel or holiday rental if you are travelling for work, attending a wedding or funeral or are moving house

Care homes

  • Care home visits are allowed behind screens, in visiting pods or behind windows
  • Indoor visits are not allowed
  • All visits will be suspended in the event of an outbreak

Weddings and funerals

  • Weddings, civil partnerships and wakes are permitted with up to six people
  • People working at the wedding are not included
  • They should only take place for urgent reasons, for example if one person is terminally ill
  • Funerals are allowed with up to 30 people
  • You can stay away from home if travelling for the above purposes
  • Communal worship is allowed but you must not mix with people outside your household or support bubble


Mainland Scotland and the Isle of Skye will go into lockdown at 00.01am on 5 January, with a “legal obligation” to stay at home – apart from leaving for essential purposes.

Schools will remain closed until 1 February, with pupils learning remotely from 11 January when the extended Christmas holidays end.

The other new rules are:

  • Stay at home and only leave for an essential purpose, i.e. for caring responsibilities or essential shopping
  • Work from home unless it really is not possible
  • Businesses must look at moving as much as possible to being done from home
  • If you are shielding and you cannot work from home, it is advised that you do not work at all
  • Frequency of outdoor exercise is not being limited
  • Only two people from two households can meet outdoors. Children under 11 do not count
  • No one is allowed to travel into or out of Scotland unless it is for an essential purpose
  • Communal worship cannot take place but 20 people can attend a funeral and five can attend a wedding
  • Community and social support services open for those who need them

The islands of Orkney, Shetland, Coll, Colonsay, Erraid, Gometra, Iona, Islay, Jura, Mull, Oronsay, Tiree, Ulva, Na h-Eileanan Siar and all of the Highlands will remain in Level 3 for now.


All of Wales has been under Level 4 restrictions since 28 December.

Welsh schools and colleges will not open until 18 January, but no other changes to the rules have been announced.

The current restrictions are:

  • No meeting anyone outside your household indoors or outdoors, except for support bubbles
  • Work from home if you can
  • Stay at home apart from collecting food, medical supplies or for work or childcare purposes
  • Pubs, restaurants and bars must close, but can remain open for takeaway
  • Alcohol can only be sold for takeaway between 10am and 6pm
  • No international travel without a reasonable excuse
  • Schools and colleges will operate remotely until 18 January
  • Universities can open but learning will be remote
  • Nurseries can remain open
  • Places of worship can stay open
  • Community centres can open for essential public services
  • Playgrounds and public parks can remain open
  • Theatres, libraries, indoor and outdoor entertainment venues and visitor attractions must close
  • Leisure centres, gyms, sports courts and golf courses must close
  • Non-essential retail closed
  • Hair, beauty and close contact services closed
  • Hotels and holiday accommodation can only open for work or emergency stays
  • Wedding receptions and wakes cannot take place

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has been subject to a six-week lockdown since 26 December.

First Minister Arlene Foster said she would “deeply regret” schools having to close, but on medical advice, they may have to move to remote learning in January.

The current rules are:

  • No mixing households indoors, except for support bubbles
  • Households can form a support bubble with one other household, providing the number of people does not exceed 10
  • Up to six people from two households can meet outdoors or in a private garden
  • Children aged 12 and under are not included in this number
  • Do not stay overnight away from home
  • Weddings and funerals can take place with up to 25 people
  • Avoid any unnecessary travel outside work, education or childcare purposes
  • Primary schools will operate remotely from 11 January, secondary schools for all of January
  • Restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars closed, with exception of takeaway
  • Takeaway premises must close by 11pm and alcohol sales must stop at 8pm
  • Hotels and holiday accommodation only allowed to open for essential purposes
  • All non-essential retail closed
  • All hair, beauty and close contact services closed
  • All indoor and outdoor entertainment premises closed
  • Outdoor parks, play areas and national parks are allowed to open
  • Leisure centres, gyms and sports facilities closed – indoors and outdoors

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