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Latest news and guidance
The latest news and guidance relating to Covid restrictions / reopening and the latest government support for museums.
This page was last updated on 31 March 2022
Update 30 March
Face masks will continue to be mandatory in indoor public settings in Scotland until 18 April (announcement made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on 30 March).
Update 15 March
Scotland – delay in lifting some restrictions
- People will be required to continue to wear face masks in indoor public settings – including indoor attractions as well as on public transport – until at least 4 April.
- Remaining legal requirements, including the requirement for venues to collect contact details for customers in certain settings, with however be lifted on Monday 21 March.
- A further statement is expected in two weeks time.
Update 22 February
Scotland – Living safely with Covid
A new staged approach to easing protective measures will help Scotland manage and recover from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
- vaccine certification will no longer be legally required from Monday 28 February, although the app will remain available so any business that wishes to continue certification on a voluntary basis to reassure customers will be able to do so.
- current legal requirements on the use of face coverings, the collection of customer details for contact tracing purposes, and for businesses, service providers and places of worship to have regard to guidance on Covid and to take reasonably practicable measures set out in the guidance are expected to be lifted on 21 March, subject to the state of the pandemic.
- access to lateral flow and PCR tests will continue to be free of charge, ahead of a detailed transition plan being published on the future of Scotland’s test and protect programme in March.
People who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be asked to self-isolate to reduce the risk of infecting other people. Any changes to the recommended period of self-isolation will be considered on an ongoing basis.
England – Living with Covid-19
This plan is for England only. It will remove the remaining legal domestic restrictions while continuing to protect people most vulnerable to COVID-19 and maintaining resilience. The government will also secure innovations and opportunities from the COVID response.
Today, 21 February the Government is:
- Removing the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.
From 24 February the Government will:
- Remove the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. Adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days.
- No longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 to test daily for 7 days, and remove the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate.
- End self-isolation support payments, national funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service will no longer be available.
- End routine contact tracing. Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests.
- End the legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate.
- Revoke The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations.
From 24 March, the Government will:
- Remove the COVID-19 provisions within the Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance regulations.
From 1 April, the Government will:
- Remove the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass.
- Update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with COVID-19 should take to minimise contact with other people. This will align with the changes to testing.
- No longer provide free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England.
- Consolidate guidance to the public and businesses, in line with public health advice.
- Remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments.
- Replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance.
Wales – further lifting of restrictions
The legal requirement to show a Covid Pass to enter certain venues and events in Wales has now been lifted by the Welsh Government. From 18 February the domestic Covid Pass will no longer be required for entry into indoor or outdoor events and venues, including nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls. But events and venues will be able to continue to use it if they choose to.
From 28 February, face coverings legally required only in retail, public transport and health and care settings.
Although wearing a face covering is no longer a legal requirement, they are still strongly recommended when using indoor areas where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, such as health and social care settings or public transport.
Update 2 February
Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund – now open
The third round of the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund(CRF) opened for applications on 31 January, with businesses and organisations who have not previously received support under the fund now eligible to apply, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, has confirmed.
New entrants for CRF 3 can apply from the Business Wales website, where further details and application forms are available. Applications will need to be returned by email to WalesCulturalRecoveryFund@gov.wales by Friday 11 February 2022.
To be eligible, businesses from the events, creative and heritage sectors will have to provide evidence that they have experienced at least 50% reduced turnover between December 2021 and February 2022 compared to the same period in 2019/20.
Museums Recovery Fund – Scotland
Applications open today (2 February) for the Museums Recovery Fund for Accredited and non-Accredited museums in Scotland.
Thanks to £1million in further funding from Scottish government, independent museums in need of support to operate and adapt in response to the challenges and opportunities arising from the pandemic can apply for grants of a size determined by their operating costs, up to £90,000.
The fund will close at 5pm on Friday 11 March 2022. However, all potential applicants should email the MGS Grants team by 5pm on Friday 25 February 2022, to register their intention to apply before starting to complete the online application.
Update 20 January 2022
The government has announced that the measures put in place under Plan B in England will be lifted.
- From the start of 27 January mandatory certification will end.
- Organisations can choose to use the NHS Covid Pass voluntarily but the government will end the compulsory use of Covid status certification in England.
Working from home
- From now on, the government is no longer asking people to work from home and people should now speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office.
- From 27 January, once regulations lapse, the government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks in indoor settings.
- The government will continue to suggest the use of face coverings in enclosed or crowded places, particularly where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet.
- It is still a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid to self-isolate.
- The isolation period has been reduced to five full days with two negative tests.
- The self-isolation regulations expire on 24 March, at which point the government expects not to renew them.
- There is no longer be any legal limits on the number of people that can meet outdoors
- COVID Pass needed for large outdoor events
From 28 January:
- Nightclubs will be able to re-open
- COVID Pass needed for large indoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls
- Working from home remains important but moves from law to guidance
- In hospitality, no restrictions on meeting people and no requirement for table service or 2 metre physical distancing
- Face coverings still required on public transport and in most indoor public places.
- Restrictions including one metre physical distancing in hospitality and leisure settings and table service in hospitality venues have been lifted and attendance limits at indoor events have been removed.
- The guidance to keep social interaction at home and in indoor public places to a maximum of three households has also been lifted.
- Face coverings remain mandatory
- Businesses can prepare to resume hybrid working from Monday 31 January
- Hospitality premises should continue to collect contact details for customers
- The Covid certification scheme continues to apply to large indoor and outdoor events, and to late night venues.
From 26 January, the legal requirement to provide proof of your COVID-19 status will only apply in relation to nightclubs and indoor unseated or partially seated events with 500 people or more.
The legal requirement for other settings where COVID-19 status certificates are currently required will be removed, however their continued use is strongly encouraged.
Update 17 January 2022
Museums Capital Resilience Fund – Scotland
The Scottish Government has allocated £1 million of capital funding to develop resilience in Scotland’s museums. The funds will support capital costs that directly increase the resilience of museums, either by increasing income, reducing costs or both.
Grants between £3,000 and £75,000 will be available although the maximum award that non-accredited museums will be able to apply for is capped at £20,000. Funds must be spent by 31 March 2022.
The submission deadline for this funding will be 5pm on Monday 14 February 2022, however please note that all applicants should contact MGS regarding their proposed applications no later than 5pm on Friday 4 February 2022.
Recovery Capacity Fund – Scotland
This fund will support independent museums most at risk from the financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further details about this fund will be available shortly.
Covid-19 recovery funding for organisations and individuals in Northern Ireland
- Covid recovery programme for heritage organisations – aims to reduce or remove heritage organisations’ financial operating deficits which have arisen as a result of the pandemic in the 2021-2022 financial year. Closing date Friday 21 January.
- Covid recovery programme for heritage individuals – will provide support to self-employed and freelance individuals working across the heritage sector. This could include conservators, builders, craftworkers and tour guides. Closing date Friday 28 January.
Culture Recovery Fund 3 – Wales
The previously announced Winter Stability Fund has been merged now with the Cultural Recovery Fund. Arts Council Wales will be administering the fund for the arts sector, and applications from independent local museums (Accredited and working towards Accreditation) will now be administered by Welsh Government.
If you have had CRF funding in the past, you will receive a letter w/c 17 January inviting you to self-declare your eligibility. There will also be a mechanism for those who did not receive CRF funding to apply.
Grant funding for businesses
Firms in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors, many of which have seen a decline in footfall and increased cancellations due to the Omicron variant, will be able to apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises depending on rateable value:
- businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or above: £6,000
- businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000: £4,000
- businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or below: £2,667
In addition, more than £100 million worth of discretionary funding is also being made available for local authorities to support other businesses.
Update 21 December 2021
The Chancellor has today announced additional support for business impacted by the Omicron variant.
- £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund, enabling more cultural organisations in England to apply for support during the winter
- Businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England will be eligible for one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises, plus more than £100 million discretionary funding will be made available for local authorities to support other businesses
- Government will also cover the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences for small and medium-sized employers across the UK
Culture Recovery Fund
- To provide continued support to the cultural sector, £30 million further funding will be made available through the Culture Recovery Fund to support organisations such as theatres, orchestras and museums through the winter to March 2022.
- The Arts Council and National Lottery Heritage Fund Culture Recovery Fund emergency funding schemes are still open. Click here for more details on the Culture Recovery Fund Emergency Resource Support Fund>>
- The government is providing one-off grants of up to £6,000 per premises for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors in England.
- Around 200,000 businesses will be eligible for business grants which will be administered by local authorities and will be available in the coming weeks.
- Click here for more details on business grants>>
Statutory Sick Pay Rebate
- The government is also reintroducing the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS).
- The SSPRS will help small and medium-sized employers – those with fewer than 250 employees – by reimbursing them for the cost of Statutory Sick Pay for Covid-related absences, for up to 2 weeks per employee. Firms will be eligible for the scheme from today and they will be able to make claims retrospectively from mid-January.
- Click here for more details on the SSPRS>>
As part of this support announced today, the devolved administrations will receive around £150 million of funding through the Barnett formula, comprising around £80 million for the Scottish Government, £50 million for the Welsh Government and £25 million for the Northern Ireland Executive.
The Welsh government has announced £5.25 million for cultural organisations to remain stable over winter. Click here for more details on the support in Wales>>
Update 9 December 2021
England moves to Plan B in response to the risks of the Omicron variant.
- Test using a lateral flow device, particularly before entering a high-risk setting involving people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, or when visiting a vulnerable person.
Work from home:
- The government has reintroduced the guidance to work from home.
- Face coverings are compulsory in museums and galleries, and most public indoor venues.
- There will be exemptions in venues where it is not practical to wear one, such as when you are eating or drinking – face masks will not be required in hospitality settings.
- Museums and art galleries do not need to apply COVID-19 status checks as a condition of entry in the normal course of business.
- They may be required if you are holding an event where attendees are standing or moving around, and meets these criteria:
- unseated indoor events with more than 500 people,
- unseated outdoor events with more than 4,000 people
- and any event with more than 10,000 people.
- The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses or a negative lateral flow test.
- This will come into force on Wednesday 15 December.
- Daily tests will be introduced for contacts instead of isolation, to keep people safe while minimising the disruption to daily life.
In Scotland rules include:
- People should isolate for 10 days – regardless of vaccination status or a negative test – if anyone in their household tests positive for Covid
- If you’ve been in close contact with someone NOT in your household who’s tested positive, you should isolate and take a PCR test. If it’s negative, and you are double-vaccinated, you can leave isolation
- People should think about postponing Christmas parties.
- Face coverings still compulsory on public transport and inside places like shops and museums.
- Indoor hospitality venues must collect customer contact details
- Work from home where possible is in place until at least the middle of January
- All over-18s required to prove their vaccine status or show a negative test at nightclubs and other venues
- People are urged to take Lateral Flow Tests before mixing with other households.
The Welsh government has said Covid rules will now be reviewed every week
People are being urged to take lateral flow tests before going out – for example, shopping, or visiting others. You should also now wear a mask in pubs and restaurants when not eating or drinking.
Existing restrictions 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
- Compulsory face coverings in schools, on public transport, and in shops and hospitals.
The Covid rules in Northern Ireland
- A limit of 30 people from different households mixing in homes
- Face coverings compulsory in shops, indoor seated venues and visitor attractions, public transport and some other settings
- Post-primary pupils must wear a face covering inside school buildings, as well as on school transport. Staff are encouraged to wear masks in school areas where they can’t socially distance
- Covid passport scheme for venues including nightclubs, bars and cinemas
- Work from home wherever possible.
Update 30 November 2021
New measures introduced following emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK.
- Face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and on public transport in England from Tuesday 30 November.
- Face coverings will be mandatory in museum shops.
- They will not be mandatory in other areas of museums, and all hospitality settings exempt.
- All international arrivals must take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
- All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
- Measures will be reviewed in three weeks time.
Update 15 September 2021
Covid-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 (issued 14 September 2021)
The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Autumn and Winter Plan 2021’ setting out plans for autumn and winter 2021/22 in England. It consists of Plan A, the preferred approach, and Plan B, the contingency measures.
Plan A – a comprehensive approach designed to steer the country through autumn and winter:
- The Government will aim to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges, while ensuring the NHS does not come under unsustainable pressure, by:
- Building our defences through pharmaceutical interventions: vaccines, antivirals and disease modifying therapeutics.
- Identifying & isolating positive cases to limit transmission: Test, Trace & Isolate
- Supporting the NHS & social care: managing pressures and recovering services
- Advising people how to protect themselves and others: clear guidance & comms
- Pursuing an international approach: helping to vaccinate the world and managing risks at the border.
Plan B – contingency plan:
- If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the Government has prepared a Plan B for England. The Government hopes not to have to implement Plan B, but given the uncertainty, it is setting out details now so that the public and businesses know what to expect if further measures become necessary.
- The Government’s Plan B prioritises measures which can help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impacts. This includes:
- Communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.
- Introducing mandatory vaccine-only covid-status certification in certain settings.
- Legally mandating face coverings in certain settings.
- Mandatory Vaccine-only COVID-status Certification Settings
- To help businesses prepare, the Government will shortly publish more detail about the proposed certification regime that would be introduced as part of Plan B, and would seek to give at least one week’s notice before mandatory vaccine certification came into force.
- Mandatory vaccine-only certification would be introduced for visitors to these venues:
- All nightclubs;
- Indoor, crowded settings with 500 or more attendees where they’re in close proximity to people from other households, e.g. music venues, large receptions;
- Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where they are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals; and
- Any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.