New Year’s Eve Covid rules: How to stay safe as Omicron sweeps UK amid test shortage

Brits are being asked to tweak their big and boozy New Year’s Eve plans by following a number of rules designed to make sure their 2022 starts Covid-free.

The UK Government confirmed yesterday there will be no further measures before the year’s end, but there are still a number of precautions in place to protect Brits amid record-breaking infection rates.

Long-suffering hospitality bosses were delighted at the Government’s decision, which may help them to stay afloat as people flock to clubs and boozers for the big night out.

Bars, clubs and pubs will be open on December 31 and into the first early hours of 2022.

But a number of measures are still in place to stop the spread of Omicron.

The Government has published advice for the big night so Brits will know exactly what they can and can’t do this New Year’s Eve.

Brits are being told to test before they head out for boozy New Year celebrations



Hand-washing, social distancing are among the older measures Brits are being asked to follow on Friday, with newer rules like the Covid Pass also considered a line of defence against rising infections.

Here are 10 rules to ensure your new year starts clear of Covid:

No partying when infected

An obvious one but it remains crucial that people experiencing Covid symptoms or scoring a positive test result must miss the party, stay at home and immediately self-isolate.

You should take a PCR test as soon as you can – no matter how many jabs you’ve had.

Current advice says the most common Covid signs are still a new and continuous cough, a high temperature, and a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste.

People should stay home and miss the party if they’re suffering with Covid symptoms


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But this year, Brits are also being urged to watch for symptoms of Omicron, such as headaches, runny nose, and a sore throat – which are near-identical to those seen during a nasty bout of the common cold.

After taking a PCR test, you must self-isolate until receiving your results.

Self-isolation starts on the day symptoms are first noticed and then for the next 10 days.

People without symptoms should count 10 full days after the day a test was taken.

Testing negative on the sixth and seventh day will allow you to leave isolation before the full time period is up.

Show your Covid pass

Revellers queuing to enter shindigs this December 31 will need to show an extra document to bouncers to gain access to some venues.

As of mid-December, it’s a legal requirement for everyone aged 18 or over entering venues including bars and most football grounds to show proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated, or that they have taken a negative test in the past 48 hours or that they’re exempt.

The law applies to unseated indoor events with more than 500 people, outdoor events with over 4,000 people unseated – and all events with 10,000 people.

Bouncers at large venues will turn Brits without a Covid pass away


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The Covid Pass is available from the NHS app, NHS website or a letter that can be obtained by going to or calling 119.

To make sure you’re not left behind in the cold this New Year’s Eve, make sure to bring your pass.

Social distancing a must

In some parts of the UK, revellers will need to adhere to strict social distancing rules at some events.

As part of a Boxing Day crackdown in Scotland, partygoers at large venues will have to maintain one-metre distance at all times.

Crowds there are limited to 100 at indoor standing events, and 200 if seated. A maximum of 500 people are allowed to meet outside.

At indoor and outdoor venues, including bars, restaurants and cinemas, only three households can celebrate with each other.

And to prevent mingling at bars and pubs, table service is making a comeback across the UK.

Meanwhile in Wales officials have returned to the Rule of Six – meaning no more than six people can meet together at public venues.

People must maintain two-metres distance when at offices and public premises. Unlike other areas of the country, nightclubs are also shuttering ahead of New Year’s Eve.

The closures are also taking place in Northern Ireland, where indoor standing events are banned and nightclubs closed.

Parties of six can mingle at pubs, bars and restaurants, but only three separate households can get together. Groups of 10 from the same household can mingle in public spaces.

Public premises will be adhering to two-metre social distancing guidelines, and relying on table service for orders.

Meet in sensible places

As cases of Omicron spike, Brits are being asked to do some forward planning before the biggest party of the year.

Outdoor events and well-ventilated indoor venues have been touted as the best places to visit to avoid contracting the virus.

Government advice reads: “When a person infected with Covid-19 coughs, talks or breathes, they release droplets and aerosols which can be breathed in by another person.”

Brits are being advised to meet in places the Covid spreads less easily, like outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor venues


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“Meeting outdoors vastly reduces the risk of airborne transmission, but this may not always be possible.

“If you’re indoors, you should let fresh air in to reduce the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19.”

It has also been advised for people in England to host their parties outdoors.

Wear a face covering

Since December 10, face masks have become mandatory again to reduce the chances of spreading the virus.

Now Brits must wear a covering in most indoor public spaces and while travelling on public transport.

But there are exemptions which will apply for New Year’s Eve as people visiting restaurants, pubs and nightclubs can enjoy their night maskless.

Masking up is still reccommended as a line of defence against the virus, so many people still choose to wear one while in these venues to avoid as much transmission is possible.

Follow hygiene advice

Though sweaty, grimy nightclubs and bars can be a New Year’s favourite for many, hygiene standards are still critical to fighting the virus.

Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day.

People are being asked to observe hygiene rules and adhere to social distancing wherever possible


Maureen McLean/REX/Shutterstock)

Regular hand washing is an effective way to reduce your risk of catching illnesses, including Covid.

Isolate if you live with some who’s infected

If you have come into contact with someone with Covid, or live with them, you do not have to isolate if you’ve had the jab, are younger than 18 years and six months old, or are medically exempt from the vaccine.

In those cases, you should take a lateral flow every day for seven days.

If you do not fit any of the criteria above, then you must self-isolate.

Get vaccinated

Though it is not a rule, all adults in England have been offered at least two doses of the vaccine with most also urged to top up with a booster jab.

Those who have been jabbed twice or three times are much, much less likely to need hospital care for Covid or die from the disease.

Getting vaccinated protects you and it protects the NHS.

“To maintain this high level of protection through the coming winter, you should also get a booster vaccine for Covid-19 when offered,” the Government write.

“Winter is a difficult time when our immunity is weaker. Getting the booster vaccine is an essential part of ensuring immune defence this season.”

Test regularly and before going out

Brits are advised to test often and before leaving home to make sure you’re not carrying a Covid as you mingle with friends and family this New Year’s Eve.

Around 1 in 3 people with the disease do not have any symptoms, meaning they could be spreading the virus without knowing it.

To avoid being that person, take a test before heading into crowded spaces or seeing older or vulnerable friends and family.

Stay home if you feel unwell

Although most of the world’s attention has been focused on Covid-19 over the past two years, other viruses and bacterial infections have continued to make people sick.

If you’re feeling unwell and are testing negative for coronavirus, staying away from the party this NYE may be a move welcomed by burdened NHS staff.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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