Seeing family and friends – COVID-19 restrictions

COVID-19 social distancing restrictions differ across UK. Please check the summary, what you can and can’t do in each country, what is recommended. You will find useful links as well. Please always check with the official websites.

Preparing this article, I focused on rules, which are important before and during Christmas for people, not businesses. It covers meeting family and friends indoors/outdoors, shopping, transport, meeting people in restaurants and recommendations about face coverings.

More articles related to COVID-19:

COVID-19 restrictions across the UK

COVID-19 in England

In England, after 14th September 2020, you can meet in groups of 6 people or less only, limiting how many different people you see socially over a short period of time. Children any age are counted in the group of 6.

People in England can create a support bubble.

Support bubble in England

Support bubble can be formed between a single-adult household and one other household of any size. The support bubble in England is seen as one household.

The single-adult household are people which live by themselves or single parents living with children which on 12th June 2020 were aged below 18.

Single-adult households sharing custody of their child with someone else they do not live with, can form a support bubble with another household other than their child’s other parent.

Not single-adult households sharing custody of their child with someone else they do not live with, can form a support bubble with a single-adult household other than the one that includes their child’s other parent.

People can create a support bubble with their carer or carers who live with them.

People should social distancing with all people, which are outside of their household or support bubble.

Indoor and outdoor meetings restrictions in England

People can meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors, when they are meeting friends and family you live with or have formed a support bubble with.

Venues following COVID-19 secure guidelines may continue to host more people in total – such as shops, pubs, restaurants, places of worship, leisure venues – but no one should mix in a group of more than 6 people.

Face coverings in England

People have to wear a face covering on a train, plane or bus if they are aged 11 or older. It doesn’t apply for deaf people who need to lip-read. It also does not apply to people which have breathing difficulties in the face mask. Those, who have breathing issues should remember that their risk of COVID-19 complications can be increased. They should be even more careful in all busy public places than others.

In England people don’t have to wear face coverings in taxis but companies like Uber will let you do it. 

What you can and can’t do in England

Making a support bubble with another household

Find more about COVID-19 restrictions in England: Coronavirus in England

Coronavirus in Scotland

In Scotland, adults can meet socially in groups of up to 6 people from no more than 2 households at a time. People have to stay physically distant from people from other households at all times. 

This limit applies at home and in an outdoor space (garden, park, pub, restaurant, café and other hospitality venue).

People in Scotland should meet no more than 4 other households a day. They can stay overnight and use the toilet in someone else’s house. They should stay 2 metres apart from anyone over 11 who is not part of your household.

Children aged 0-11 do not need to physically distance from others, do not have a limit on the number of households they can meet in one day. Children under 12 from within the 2 households are not counted in the limit of 6 people. But in the group can be people from no more than 2 households.

Teenagers aged 12-17 should follow the same rules as for adults, except there is no limit on the number of households they can meet in one day.

People living in different places can form an extended household.

Extended household in Scotland

Adults living alone or adults living only with children, can form an extended household with another household. Extended household can only contain two households. Members of an extended household are considered to be one household.

Physical distancing between members of an extended household is not required.

People can stay overnight, if the physical distancing between members of different households is maintained.

Isolation in Scotland

If any member of the extended household develops COVID-19 symptoms, people from the extended household must isolate immediately if they met the symptomatic person 2 days before and up to 10 days after their symptoms started. 10 days for the full 14 days. If the symptomatic person has a positive test result, all members of their direct household must isolate for 14 days from the start of symptoms. Members of the extended household have to isolate for 14 days from when the most recent contact took place.

People have to self-isolate for 14 full days if they arrive in Scotland from a country outside the UK, Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. 

Face coverings in Scotland

People have to wear face coverings in shops, takeaway restaurants, banks, cinemas, places of worship, museums, libraries, estate agents, beauty parlours, indoor funfairs, public transport (planes, buses, trains, taxis, bus and train stations, airports, airline services, trams and subways, partly ferries). Please check online for the whole list.

In Scotland, people have to wear masks if they are over the age of 5.

Parent Club – Shared parenting during coronavirus

NHS inform – Physical distancing (COVID-19)

Find more about COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland here: Coronavirus in Scotland

COVID-19 restrictions in Wales

In Wales, people can form an extended household.

Extended households in Wales

The purpose of extended households in Wales is allowing families or close friends to reconnect with each other. Each household in Wales can be part of only one extended household. Up to four households can join together to form an extended household. There is no limit on the number of people who can be in an extended household.

Mixed occupancy

People, which live in a house of mixed occupancy each form separate households. Assisted living arrangement is considered a single household.

Providing care to people in need

People are allowed to provide care for or to help someone who needs it, even if they are not part of their extended household. Even, if it requires going to their house.

Indoors and outdoor restrictions in Wales

People can only meet socially indoors with people from their household and members of their extended household (if they have formed one).

People outside your household or extended household, are only allowed to reach your outdoor area. They cannot go to your house. For safety reasons, people using your garden shouldn’t use your toilet but if it will be carefully cleaned before and after use, it is not illegal.

Since 14th September 2020, meetings or gatherings indoors even within the extended household must be limited to 6 people (not including any children aged under 11). This applies in pubs and restaurants as well.

Households larger than 6 people aged 11 and over are allowed to go out together. But if they want to meet with people outside their household, the total number of people (aged 11 and over) gathering together is still 6 – so somebody from the larger household will be not allowed to attend the meeting.

People can go on holiday with members of their own or extended household. Currently the group travelling together must be limited to 6 people.

Isolation in Wales

Gatherings of up to 30 people are permitted outdoors. But people should maintain social distancing from people outside their household and extended household.

If anyone in the extended household will develop symptoms of COVID-19, everyone will be asked to self-isolate, until their test will confirm that they are healthy.

Face coverings in Wales

People aged 11 or younger have to wear face masks or coverings in all public spaces, including shops, supermarkets, places of worship, hairdressers and salons, cinema, museums, gyms, leisure centres and all public transport (plains, trains, buses, trams, taxis and boats, partly on ferries).

To check more about restrictions in Wales, it is best to go directly to the official website:

Find more about COVID-19 restrictions in Wales here: Coronavirus in Wales

COVID-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, since 24th August 2020, only up to 6 people from two households can meet indoors in private homes

No mixing of households in private dwellings is allowed, with an exemption for bubbling with one other household.

No more than 6 people are allowed to gather in a private garden from no more than two households.

Overnight stays are permitted.

Outdoor restrictions in Northern Ireland

Up to 15 people can meet up outdoors but they should maintain social distancing.

Face coverings in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, people have to wear a mask on public transport (bus, coach and trains, in public transport stations, indoor areas of a ferry, outdoor areas where social distancing is impossible). 

It is mandatory to wear face coverings in shops or shopping centres and any indoor places, where goods or services are available to buy or rent. 

Children under the age of 13 do not have to wear a face covering.

Member of staff or employee of the shop or shopping centre do not have to wear a face covering.

If people have a reasonable reason as disability that makes wearing a face mask difficult, then they don’t have to wear it. Please remember that people with breathing difficulties are in a group of higher risk of COVID-19 complications. They should consider not using public places, if it is not absolutely necessary – and they should still try to get any face covering like face shield. It doesn’t provide a good protection but it is better than nothing.

It is not mandatory to wear a face covering in businesses that are able to maintain social distancing by using a system of ticketing or appointments. It is not mandatory to use them in banks, restaurants, pubs or cafés, in a gym. Maintain social distancing if you are in an enclosed space. 

Indoor visits in Northern Ireland (COVID-19)

Find more about COVID-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland here: Coronavirus in Northern Ireland