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            2. Covid: Will there be another lockdown in the UK?

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              Image source, Getty Images

              A number of European countries have strengthened Covid restrictions in response to rising numbers of cases.

              The Health Secretary Sajid Javid has urged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to prevent a similar situation in the UK.

              What's happening in Europe?

              Several nations are reporting record-high infection rates, and have introduced anti-Covid measures, including extending the use of vaccine passports, mandating masks and recommending that people work from home.

              Austria has announced a full national lockdown, and said Covid vaccinations will be compulsory from February.

              What's happening in the UK?

              In the last week of October, daily Covid cases rose above 50,000. Numbers have since dropped back slightly, but the seven-day average is still above 40,000.

              England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam warned there are hard months ahead.

              Sajid Javid has said the government is monitoring the situation, and added that the most important thing people could do "to keep the virus at bay" is to get vaccinated.

              Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are each responsible for their own Covid rules.

              Will there be another lockdown in the UK?

              In September, the health secretary announced a list of measures which would come into place if the NHS came under "unsustainable pressure" in England. These include:

              • introducing mandatory Covid passports
              • making face coverings compulsory again
              • advising people to work from home
              • communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and the need to behave more cautiously

              However, these restrictions would only effectively bring England in line with stricter rules still in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

              The government has repeatedly said it has no plans for another lockdown.

              What might trigger a re-think?

              No single event or set of figures would necessarily trigger stricter measures, but the government said it would monitor:

              • hospitalisations
              • rapid rates of change in figures
              • the overall state of the NHS

              What's the government's current strategy?

              The government's current strategy is centred on encouraging take-up of Covid vaccines and boosters. Measures include:

              What restrictions are in place in England?

              Image source, Reuters
              Image caption,
              Vaccination take-up is at the heart of plans to control Covid this winter

              What's the situation in Wales?

              First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned that Covid measures could be brought back in to allow Wales to have a "normal" Christmas. Current measures include:

              • NHS Covid Pass needed for entry to nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls and many other indoor and outdoor events
              • working from home wherever possible
              • face coverings compulsory on public transport, and in shops and hospitals
              Image source, Getty Images

              What's the situation in Northern Ireland?

              Ministers in Northern Ireland have strengthened their message on working from home, asking employees to do so "where they can" and businesses to support this "where possible".

              Health Minister Robin Swann has also warned that some hospitality venues "may be asked to close" over Christmas if Covid-19 continues to spread.

              The NI executive's autumn/winter Covid contingency plan sets out a range of other possible measures, including:

              • strengthened arrangements for self-isolation for close contacts
              • a return to mandatory social distancing

              Other current restrictions include:

              • a limit of 30 people from different households mixing indoors in domestic settings
              • face coverings compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings
              • vaccine passports for venues including nightclubs, bars and cinemas to be mandatory from 29 November

              What restrictions are currently in place in Scotland?

              • physical distancing rules remain in healthcare settings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and dentists, where the 2m (6ft) rule applies
              • face coverings still compulsory on public transport and inside places like shops
              • all school staff and secondary pupils to wear face coverings indoors
              • indoor hospitality venues must collect customer contact details
              • working from home where possible
              • all over-18s required to prove their vaccine status at nightclubs and other venues
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