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Explainer: What Covid restrictions are like in other countries as Ireland prepares to reopen


A woman wearing a face mask crosses Waterloo Bridge in London today. Photo: PA

A woman wearing a face mask crosses Waterloo Bridge in London today. Photo: PA

A woman wearing a face mask crosses Waterloo Bridge in London today. Photo: PA

With the Irish Government likely to begin a phased easing of restrictions from next week, Independent.ie has looked into how countries around the world are approaching Covid health guidelines.

The UK

This week Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that all Covid-19 restrictions which were introduced in response to the Omicron variant will be brought to an end next week.

From Monday, nightclub closures and the requirement for table service in hospitality will cease, while attendance limits on indoor events will also be lifted.

Ms Sturgeon said the guidance asking people to stick to a three-household limit on indoor gatherings will also be scrapped. However, she has asked the Scottish public to remain cautious as Covid-19 case numbers are still high.

In Wales, a gradual easing of restrictions is under way, provided case numbers do not increase again. From Friday, capacity limits will be lifted for outdoor events. On January 28, nightclubs will reopen and groups in pubs and restaurants will no longer be limited to six people. Covid-19 passes will still be required for nightclubs, cinemas and large events.

In England, ministers are expected to end the mandatory use of Covid Certs for entry to nightclubs, sports stadia and cultural venues from January 26, while the guidance asking employees to work from home will also likely end.

In Northern Ireland, nightclubs remain closed following rules introduced from St Stephen’s Day, while other hospitality venues are operating under social distancing rules and table service.

Stormont ministers are coming under increased pressure to outline a roadmap to remove the current restrictions from industry bodies including Retail NI and the Belfast Chamber.


In Denmark, cinemas, museums and other cultural institutions reopened on Monday after a month-long Covid-19 lockdown. Crowd capacities have also increased for indoor and outdoor sporting events. Visitors to cultural and sporting venues must still wear face coverings and show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test.

Covid Certs are mandatory for entry to restaurants, cafes, bars and nightclubs and all these venues must close by 11pm.

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On Monday, Denmark reported a daily record of Covid-19 cases at 28,780.

However, Danish officials pressed ahead with easing restrictions as ICU admissions have dropped steadily in recent weeks despite the spread of Omicron.

Denmark’s decision to ease restrictions was helped by the country’s successful vaccination programme. Four out five people have had two vaccine doses, while over half of the population has had a booster or additional dose. Danish officials are planning a further easing of restrictions on January 31.

While other countries are easing restrictions, France has beefed-up its public health guidelines to tackle the pandemic.

From this week, unvaccinated people in France cannot enter bars, cafes or restaurants. They are also excluded from sporting, cultural and other venues.

The French government has also brought in heavy fines for people caught using someone else’s pass and fake passes.

A fine of €135 previously applied for these offences and it has been increased to €1,000, while those found in possession of several false passes could face up to five years in prison and a €75,000 fine.

Before Christmas, stricter rules were introduced in Italy which remain in place.

A 'super green pass' is required for entry to hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes and for travel on public transport and for the majority of indoor venues.

Previously, proof of a recent, negative Covid-19 test was sufficient for an Italian green pass, but now they are only available for people who are fully vaccinated.

New Zealand and Australia

Most regions in New Zealand, except Northland, are still operating under Orange restrictions. Orange restrictions allow people to go to work, school, gyms, places of worship, restaurants, bars and other settings.

The majority of businesses can open with no restrictions on numbers if they choose to follow Vaccine Pass requirements, and only allow people with a Vaccine Pass to enter.

Under the red warning, members of the public are legally required to provide a Vaccine Pass to enter places that have vaccination requirements including hospitality venues, events, gatherings and gyms.

New Zealand is still preparing for the full onslaught of the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, despite a recent surge in Omicron cases, the Australian government has not introduced more severe restrictions.

In News South Wales, restaurants, cafes and hospitality venues are open and capacity limits for indoor hospitality venues of one person per two square metres apply, with no density limits for outdoor venues.

Customers can be seated or stand at bars and at live events but singing and dancing is not permitted at hospitality venues including pubs, clubs, nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

Meanwhile, people do not need to show evidence of their vaccination status, unless they are at an airport, work in certain industries or are attending an indoor music festival with more than 1,000 people.

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