On Oct. 31, authorities in the UK announced plans for a second national lockdown in England as part of the country's efforts to combat a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. Beginning Nov. 5, all non-essential stores and entertainment venues will be required to close. People are instructed to remain at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, such as for work, school, exercise, or shopping for necessities. All pubs and restaurants will close except for takeout and deliveries. Schools, colleges, and universities are permitted to remain open. These measures will remain in effect through Dec. 2 and are subject to parliamentary approval. After Dec. 2, the measures will be eased and the country will return to the current tiered system, whereby local restrictions are introduced depending on the area's infection rate.
Authorities have maintained a three-tier alert system based on localized COVID-19 activity levels; the alert levels are Medium, High, and Very High. Medium is currently the minimum level; in all areas, gatherings of more than six people are prohibited, and pubs and restaurants must close by 2200. For High alert areas, a ban on indoor gatherings by members of different households is also in effect; this currently applies to London, most of Essex, parts of Cheshire, Elmbridge, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Durham, York, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Tees Valley, West Midlands, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire. UK authorities have also classified the following areas as high-risk areas effective Oct. 31: Oxford, Luton, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston-Upon-Hull, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Dudley, Staffordshire, Telford, and the Wrekin, Amber Valley, Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales, Derby City, South Derbyshire, High Peak, and Charnwood. Additional restrictions for areas rated as Very High include a complete ban on gatherings by members of different households either indoors or in private outdoor areas and the closure of pubs and bars that do not serve food; this currently applies to Manchester, South Yorkshire, Stoke on Trent, Coventry, Slough, Liverpool City Region, and Lancashire.
Each of the UK's constituent countries has the authority to impose travel and other restrictions, though they have typically remained closely aligned in their actions. Specific nationwide measures include a requirement that facemasks be worn in enclosed public spaces, including on public transport and a prohibition on gatherings of more than six people. Other measures include:
In Scotland, authorities unveiled a five-tier alert system for classifying local COVID-19 activity and imposing restrictions accordingly; the system consists of levels 0 through 4. Authorities generally advise against nonessential travel between councils that are at different alert levels; specific measures implemented at each level are:
- Level 0 has the loosest restrictions, with eight people from three different households being allowed to gather indoors, while 15 people from five different households can do so outdoors. No councils will be at this level from Nov. 2.
- In level 1 areas, indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to six people from two different households are allowed. Weddings and funerals are limited to 20 attendees. Hospitality businesses must close by 2230. Effective Nov. 2, councils at this level are Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland, and Western Isles.
- In level 2 areas, indoor gatherings of persons from different households are prohibited; outdoor gatherings of up to six people from two different households are allowed. Weddings and funerals are limited to 20 attendees. Indoor hospitality establishments must close by 2000, while outdoor venues must close by 2230. Effective Nov. 2, councils at this level are Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, and Perth and Kinross.
- In level 3 areas, the rules on gatherings are the same as under level 2. In addition, all entertainment venues must remain closed; pubs and restaurants may stay open until 1800 for food and nonalcoholic beverage service. Hotels are to be used for essential purposes only. Effective Nov. 2, councils at this level are Glasgow City, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Inverclyde, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian, Clackmannanshire, Falkirk, Stirling, and Dundee.
- In level 4 areas the rules on gatherings are the same as levels 2 and 3. But, in addition, all nonessential businesses and public buildings must remain closed. Public transport is to be used only for essential purposes. Gyms must close; only non-contact outdoor sports will be permitted. Only essential workers, including those employed in construction and manufacturing, will be allowed to go to work on-site; all other employees must work from home. No councils will be at this level from Nov. 2.
Bars and restaurants in central areas of Scotland remain closed until at least Nov. 2, when the five-tier alert system goes into effect.
The following restrictions are in effect:
- Social bubbles are limited to 10 people from two different households.
- All food and beverage establishments are closed, except for delivery and takeout services.
- Indoor sports, as well as contact sports involving members of different households, are suspended.
- Public gatherings are limited to 15 people.
- Close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, are closed.
- Schools are closed until at least Nov. 2.
- Wedding ceremonies and funerals are limited to 25 people.
- Restrictions on social activity are tighter in some areas, including Londonderry and Strabane.
The following restrictions are in effect:
- Through at least Nov. 9, gatherings of people from different households are prohibited; nonessential businesses, including hotels, hair salons, and pubs, must remain closed, and restaurants are limited to carryout services only.
- Restrictions on social activity are tighter in some areas, including Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent, Newport, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Torfaen, Vale of Glamorgan Caerphilly, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy, and Wrexham.
Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all domestic travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.