I was on the pill for 9 yrs then switched brands and took a few months off before starting again- does the standard 7 day rule for effectiveness apply?

No. If you just restarted the birth control pills, you should use a back-up method for the first month.
Yes, but depends. If you choose to start your pills on the sunday following the start of you period, then it's a good idea to use back up, like condoms for 1st week. However if you choose to start your pills on the 1st day of bleeding of your period, then you are protected during your 1st cycle. Btw only 5% of women who use the pill get pregnant.