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The Great Unlocking: How COVID-19 Protections and Restrictions are Changing in The UK

The Great Unlocking: How COVID-19 Protections and Restrictions are Changing in The UK

The UK is set to continue to remove COVID-19 Protections and Restrictions in July and August. Each of the Four Nations have outlined their next steps, though they are subject to change depending on how ministers reflect on localised scientific data.


In the next few weeks, the majority of COVID-19 legal restrictions will be removed, though with cases on the rise, the guidance to employ caution and behave responsibly remains.

What changes?

19 July

  •       No limits on social contact: groups of any size may gather
  •       Social distancing guidelines removed, with a few exceptions including airports
  •       All remaining businesses (for example, nightclubs) may re-open
  •       There is no requirement to scan a QR code when entering a commercial location, and business will no longer be required to collect customer information for track and trace
  •       Customers may order directly from a bar
  •       No audience capacity restrictions at large-scale events, including sports, culture and entertainment
  •       House parties are allowed
  •       Wearing a face covering will be voluntary, and are no longer required in shops or on public transport.
  •       People no longer are required to work from home if able
  •       No restriction on the number of visitors to care home residents, but there will be a limit on the number of visits per day, and infection control measures will remain in place

16 August

  •       Individuals who have completed their vaccine course (two weeks following the second injection, or first if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) will no longer have to self-isolate after coming into contact with an infected person.
  •       Unvaccinated individuals will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days
  •       Self-isolation for 10 days is required for all individuals who test positive for COVID-19


  •       School Bubble system ends, however students who test positive will need to self-isolate if a PCR test confirms they are positive for COVID-19
  •       Secondary and college pupils will be required to take two tests on-site at the start of term, and continue to take two tests per week until at least the end of September
  •       Fully vaccinated teachers may remain in school, even if a close contact tests positive


  •       Fully vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine upon return from green and amber companies.
  •       Britons living overseas will not be able to prove their vaccine status if vaccinated outside of The UK

Northern Ireland

22 July

  •       Theatres reopen with mitigations
  •       Conferences may occur
  •       Live music indoors may resume with no sound level restrictions

26 July

  •       Fully vaccinated travellers returning to NI from green and amber list countries will not need to isolate
  •       Close contact services (like salon appointments) will no longer require an appointment
  •       Face coverings will not be required in places of worship


  •       Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan has indicated that all COVID-19 restrictions will end in Northern Ireland at a to be determined date in August (potentially 16 August)



  •       Scotland plans to remove remaining COVID-19 protections by 9 August


  •       No date set to lift remaining legal restrictions

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