Scientists today said that Wales and Scotland’s decision to use stricter Covid restrictions during the pandemic might not have been worth it.

Nicola Sturgeon still has not committed to a date of end to work from home, despite England dumping it last week. Mark Drakeford refuses to lift controversial ‘rule six’ for another 4 days.

Both nations resorted to tougher Covid curbs than England early out in the pandemic, and kept people living under economically-cripping curbs for longer.

MailOnline was told by experts that there is no significant difference in cumulative deaths rates between England, the UK and other parts of the UK. 

The argument was that Omicron wave swung out similar across home nations, even though Downing St had slipped by on relatively few rules. 

This is in spite of Scotland’s decision to cancel New Year’s Eve festivities and Mr Drakeford accusing England, calling them ‘global outliers’. Ms Sturgeon stated yesterday that the tougher restrictions placed on Scotland for Christmas were “worth it”, pointing out they maintained lower infection rates than those south of the border. 

Pictured above is the death rate over time between England's four-nations per 100,000 people over the previous seven days, according to the Department of Health. Separate data based on death certificates from the Office for National Statistics shows Wales has the highest cumulative death rate followed by England, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Above is the mortality rate between England’s four nations per 100,000 population over the past seven days according to Department of Health. Data from separate sources, including death certificates from Office for National Statistics, show that Wales is the country with the highest cumulative rate of death. England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are close behind.

Pictured above is the infection rate across the UK's four nations over time. Despite tougher curbs Northern Ireland has the highest infection rate. England has the second-highest, although it did have the lowest between Christmas and New Year

The infection rates for each of the four UK countries are shown in the graphic above. Northern Ireland, which has had to put in more effort, still suffers the highest rate of infection. England is the country with the highest infection rate, but it had the lowest rates between Christmas and New Year.

The latest statistics released by the Department of Health indicate that England had the lowest Covid infected rate during the Christmas period. This is despite being the leader until December 23.

However, No10 was unwilling to give in to lockdown demands. Instead, a ‘Plan B” was created. This included work from home guidance being reinstituted, face masks in public areas, and controversial vaccination passports for large indoor venues.

SAGE advisors claim that the Omicron wave died out naturally due to behavioral changes. This was in contrast to natural immunity which caused the peak of the epidemic. 

Which Covid restrictions were imposed by each UK country this winter in order to combat Omicron?

Although the Omicron version was devastating for the UK’s nations, their response was quite unique.

Here are the restrictions that different countries have imposed.


  • Guidance for working from home
  • To be able to access large indoor events or nightclubs you need a vaccine passport
  • In public areas such as train stations, face masks are recommended.
  • Booster programme intensified.


  • Guidance for working from home 
  • Requests for meeting in small groups consisting of three or fewer households.
  • For large events, in bars and restaurants, social distancing one meter has been restored
  • Hospitality venues that offer alcohol must provide table service
  • For three weeks, nightclubs were closed. 
  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to 250 people, while indoor gatherings can accommodate up to 500.
  • NB. In October of this year, vaccination passports in Scotland were implemented. Face masks had already been in place at the time Omicron struck. 


  •  Work from home guidance;
  • In bars, restaurants and cinemas, the “Rule Of Six” is applicable.
  • At hospitality venues, table service is limited to tables. For this reason, face masks are required.
  • In offices and public spaces, two-metre social separation is enforced
  • Maximum 30 individuals are allowed to participate in indoor events and maximum 50 for outdoor events.
  • To be conducted behind closed doors. Nightclubs are not allowed to host sporting events. 

Northern Ireland 

  •  Table service only in pubs and restaurants;
  • In these locations, the “Rule of Six” is back
  • At hospitality venues, dancing is also forbidden
  • Guidance for working from home 

England now has the second highest infection rate, at 974.1 per 100,000 in the week ended January 18, after Northern Ireland (1353.6). 

Comparatively, the equivalent number in Scotland was 529.7 and Wales was 480.8.

England is currently home to the highest number of hospitalizations, with 22.8 admissions per 100,000 in the seven days ending January 17.

This rate is three times greater than in Scotland (which has the lowest at 15.1). 

England has a rate of growth that is less than half what it was last winter. This shows how vaccines can be used to break the link once so strong between serious illness and cases.

This trend mirrors the pattern seen in three other nations. 

England currently has the highest Covid mortality rate at 2.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. However, this figure is in line with Wales’s (2.3), Northern Ireland (22) and Scotland (1.9). 

As the country reeled from the Omicron variant’s arrival, Scotland imposed tighter restrictions in December. This was in response to the fear that the Omicron variant would cause a surge in hospitalisations.

About a week after the first case was confirmed, Scottish health chiefs started advising the public not to attend Christmas parties — unlike their counterparts in England.

As the spread of the disease became more serious, Scots were told to not gather with more than three households. Supermarkets were asked to enforce a one-way system to avoid the worst.

To enforce ever stricter restrictions, Ms. Sturgeon closed night clubs for three consecutive weeks and cancelled public events for New Year’s Eve.

Wales took a similar approach, setting up a series of Boxing Day restrictions. This meant that sporting events were held behind closed doors.

Drakeford brought back two metres of social distancing in offices and public spaces.

Northern Ireland banned nightclubs starting December 26, and also prohibited the use of pubs or restaurants for dancing. The government also reinstated table service. 

For comparison, England only went as far as ‘Plan B’ — which included making face masks compulsory in indoor public places and bringing in vaccine passports for larger venues. The No10 initiative also encouraged people to work remotely whenever possible.

Despite calls from certain quarters, ministers did not go as far as to call off New Year’s Eve festivities or bring back stricter Covid curbs like the ‘rules of six’. 

Scientists said that despite evidence that curbs did not make any difference in the Omicron wave’s trajectory, they were still worth the effort.

Professor Gary McLean from London Metropolitan University was an immunologist. It’s easy to see the past and conclude that England was right.

Omicron was still too unknown at the time that the measures were implemented. England was lucky, I believe.

Paul Hunter, University of East Anglia infectious disease expert, stated: “It’s difficult to find any evidence that stricter restrictions in Scotland had any effect over what we saw in England.”

In another sign tougher restrictions were not needed, England’s cumulative Covid death rate — the total number of fatalities per 100,000 people — still trails behind that of Wales.

This is in spite of Wales, for example, imposing a lockdown on circuit-breakers in October and adopting the five mile rule asking people to stay within five miles of their homes.

Scotland was also more strict with Covid restrictions than England. They kept face masks on public transport for several weeks longer than England. Northern Ireland, however, took much longer to ease the third lockdown.

Downing Street declares that there are no plans to repeal the Covid mandate for frontline doctors in England. 

Downing Street stated today that there were no plans to repeal or delay the NHS Covid mandate for vaccination in England. This was despite widespread outcry.

Warning: The April 1st deadline to receive two shots by frontline medical personnel has been set. This could result in 80,000 vacant positions and paralyse the healthcare system.

However, the official spokesperson for the Prime Minister doubled down today on this move and claimed that it was still the right approach.

According to them, it was the duty of medics to get vaccinated as they look after those most at risk from Covid.

On Sunday thousands marched against the move in central London. There have been also so-called “freedom rallies” held in Glasgow and Manchester as well as Birmingham, Leeds, and Birmingham.

Royal College of GPs warned of the potential for’massive implications’ to the NHS if there is a mass exodus of non-vaccinated workers. It has asked that the deadline be extended.

However, the spokesperson for the PM stated that there were no plans to alter the date of implementation.

“Health and social workers care for the most vulnerable members of society, who could face severe health consequences if they are exposed to the virus.”

Professor Simon Clarke at Reading University is a microbiologist who said that the differences in restrictions among nations has not made any significant difference in terms of Covid deaths. 

“They all have the same number of deaths per head.” However, it does not indicate that Scotland or Wales have implemented any more restrictive measures than they should.

Wales is the country with the highest number of Covid-related deaths (291.4 deaths certificates for every 100,000 people who have mentioned it), which places it just below England (262.3), Scotland (229.2), and Northern Ireland (221.2).

Yesterday, Ms. Sturgeon said that the strict Covid laws in Scotland had been “worth it” because they kept the infection rate low. 

According to Professor Hunter, official statistics proved that her regulations had not made any difference in Omicron’s progress. 

He warned, however that restrictions would only slow down the Covid wave and not stop it.

“But delaying means that a delayed infection will be more serious, and paradoxically restricting now won’t ultimately lower the disease burden because eventually you will get the wave.

“If you have it within a few days of your booster roll it may be less severe. But if you wait six months, the immunity might drop to the point that people are at greater risk for serious disease.

On Sunday Morning, Ms. Sturgeon stated that it was ‘worth it to impose stricter restrictions north-of the border. 

She was asked whether they contributed to the wave’s halting, but she answered that they are, although their impact is large on both individuals and businesses. 

The ONS is a great place to start. [Office for National Statistics]Survey, the one in twenty which you cited. It details that approximately 5.5 percent of England’s population had or was estimated to have contracted the virus during that week.

It was approximately 4.5 Percent in Scotland. That is quite a big difference. Overall, the infection rates in Scotland have been lower during this pandemic.

She added: ‘I think that was a combination of the acceleration of the booster campaign… these sensible, balanced, protective measures we introduced before Christmas and lastly – perhaps most importantly – the magnificent, responsible response of the public who changed their behaviour in the face of Omicron in order to try to stem transmission.

‘So, yes, I think what we did has been worth it and we’re hopefully now seeing Scotland… very firmly on the downward slope of that Omicron wave.’

 Scottish Conservative MP Murdo Fraser has laid into the First Minister over her tight rules, saying yesterday: ‘Nicola Sturgeon still can’t bring herself to admit the restrictions she imposed over Christmas were unnecessary.

“The SNP is quick to enforce Covid rules but slow to get vital funds to businesses.

“It’s shameful so many small businesses still wait to get a single dollar.”