At Christmas coronavirus restrictions will be eased to allow people to mix with a slightly wider circle of family and friends.
Across the UK, people will be able to form “bubbles” of three households over a five day period.
Who am I allowed to see?
Between 23 and 27 December, the three households will be allowed to form a temporary “Christmas bubble”. They can mix indoors and stay overnight.
Northern Ireland has been granted a longer window of 22 to 28 December, to allow time to travel between the nations.
Bubbles will be allowed to meet each other:
- In each other’s homes
- At a place of worship
- In an outdoor public space, or garden
The bubbles will be fixed, so you will not be able to mix with two households on Christmas Day and two different ones on Boxing Day. Households you are in a Christmas bubble with can’t be in others.
There will be no limit to the number of people in a household joining a bubble.
However, the rules about what counts as a household will depend on where you are. In England if you have formed a support bubble with another household, that counts as one household, so you can join with two other households in a Christmas bubble.
People who are self-isolating should not join a Christmas bubble. If someone tests positive, or develops coronavirus symptoms up to 48 hours after the Christmas bubble last met, everyone will have to self-isolate.
Where am I allowed to travel in the UK?
Travel restrictions will be lifted to allow people to visit their families anywhere in the UK.
But the government has warned that there will not be extra public transport laid on.
It has urged people to plan their travel in advance.
What are the rules for going to the pub or a restaurant?
You will not be allowed to go with your Christmas bubble to hospitality settings, such as pubs and restaurants, or to entertainment venues.
You can meet people outside your Christmas bubble, but only in line with the tier rules of the area in which you are staying.
Will Covid rules be different for New Year’s Eve?
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the relaxation of restrictions will not be extended to cover New Year’s Eve.
She said: “I know New Year is special for people, perhaps slightly more so in Scotland than in other parts of the UK, but the virus is still there.”
What if a family member is in an at-risk group?
The virus will not call a truce because it is Christmas, and will be as contagious as at any other time, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
Even if it is within the rules, meeting friends and family over Christmas will be a “personal judgement,” the government says.
People should consider the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to use the Christmas rules responsibly and “only if you think it is necessary”.
Can all my children come home for Christmas?
Children of parents who live apart are allowed to be part of two separate Christmas bubbles. This means they can see both parents without being counted as part of another household.
University students may return to their parents at the end of term and be counted as part of their household straight away.
But if parents have three or more grown up children who are not at university, then they cannot all form a Christmas bubble with their parents.
Individual households can split for Christmas. So, if three people are sharing a home they can all go and form separate Christmas bubbles with their families and come back to form a single household again afterwards.