Several of the nations that comprise the UK have added rules that are bound to affect travelers’ plans as they hope to halt further spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant throughout the British Isle. The countries of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each added new restrictions, whilst England has held off on doing so – for now. The news is bound to come as a blow to travelers who headed towards the UK with dreams of a bumper New Year’s celebration in mind.
In adding the new rules and restrictions, the British nations have joined a fast-growing list of destinations in Europe that have made moves to ensure the chances of Covid-19 spreading is at a minimum, as Omicron continues to make cases soar on the continent. Here’s a look at the changes that are set to come into place, why they are being made and plus a recap of which other countries in Europe have also tightened their restrictions recently.
UK Nations Make Changes – Information For Travelers
The UK is amongst the worst affected countries in the world when it comes to Covid-19. The past week has seen their positive daily Covid-19 case record smashed several times as a mixture of the more contagious Omicron variant, lax social restrictions and festive events have seen the virus spread like wildfire. Last updated on Christmas Eve, the UK is currently reporting a daily average of more than 100,000 cases.
Such high figures have led three out of the four countries that comprise the UK to take action in an effort to try and prevent the figures from rising further. As of 5AM GMT today, Scotland closed all nightclubs in the country, putting a lid on the country’s New Year and traditional Hogmanay celebrations. Social distancing has also returned to all indoor leisure facilities such as pubs, restaurants, theatres and museums, whilst table service is also required in places that serve alcohol.
Northern Ireland has also put into place similar rules that affect the nation’s hospitality sector. Tables are limited to six people only, whilst dancing is forbidden unless at a wedding. The country is also pushing harder on 2m social distancing measures, whilst making mask wearing compulsory in more places such as shops and public transport, and cutting the number of exemptions. Nightclubs have also closed, whilst large indoor standing events are prohibited.
Wales too is widely reinstating 2m social distancing where appropriate, and is requiring that people wear face masks in hospitality settings in all situations apart from when seated. Masks must also be worn on public transport and in shops, whilst proof of Covid-19 status will need to be shown before gaining entry to venues such as cinemas and restaurants.
Despite the high number of cases being registered, England has neglected to formally introduce new measures, though the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has encouraged people to test themselves for Covid-19 regularly and wear masks frequently. Already in the UK, people need to prove that they’re vaccinated, have recently tested negative or that they are exempt in order to gain entry to nightclubs and many other venues.
The UK isn’t alone in adding to its existing social restrictions. Spain, Italy and Greece have also doubled down on their existing mask wearing policies in recent days, as they too react to a rise in cases throughout the continent, whilst some popular destinations in the US have also added mask and testing mandates too. With New Year’s Eve celebrations all but canceled across Europe, travelers may be better off starting the new year at home.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories