Coronavirus restrictions: What's changed?

On 22nd September, the government announced new rules to control the spread of the coronavirus this winter, this includes face coverings being required to be worn in more places, tougher rules for businesses and hospitality, and restrictions on social meetings. The changes announced are set out below: 

Face Coverings

  • Customers in private hire vehicles and taxis must wear face coverings (from 23 September).
  • Customers in hospitality venues must wear face coverings, except when seated at a table to eat or drink. Staff in hospitality and retail will now also be required to wear face coverings (from 24 September).
  • People who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, such as because of an underlying health condition, will continue to be exempt from these new obligations.
  • Guidance stating that face coverings and visors should be worn in close contact services will now become law. (from 24 September)
  • Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear face coverings.


  • Businesses selling food or drink (including cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants), social clubs, casinos, bowling alleys, amusement arcades (and other indoor leisure centres or facilities), funfairs, theme parks, and adventure parks and activities, and bingo halls, must be closed between 10pm and 5am. This will include take-aways but delivery services can continue after 10pm. (Already in place in Northumberland, from 24th September in the rest of the country)
  • In licensed premises, food and drink must be ordered from, and served at, a table. (Already in place in Northumberland, from 24th September in the rest of the country)
  • Customers must eat and drink at a table in any premises selling food and drink to consume indoors, on site. (Already in place in Northumberland, from 24th September in the rest of the country)
  • Businesses will need to display the official NHS QR code posters so that customers can ‘check-in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details once the app is rolled out nationally. (from 24 September)
  • Businesses and organisations will face stricter rules to make their premises COVID Secure (from 28 September).
  • A wider range of leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches.
  • Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
  • Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
  • Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can work effectively from home, they should do so. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.


Social meetings

  • Support bubble groups must be limited to a maximum of 15 people (from 24 September)
  • Indoor organised sport for over 18s will no longer be exempt from the rule of six. There is an exemption for indoor organised team sports for disabled people. (From 24 September)
  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions will be restricted to a maximum of 15 people (down from 30). Other ‘life events’ will be subject to the ‘rule of six’ limits, except funerals (from 28 September).