A Christmas bubble will be able to spend time together
When it comes to the Christmas period, the UK Covid-19 rules will temporarily relax to allow people to spend time with their loved ones.
From December 23 to December 27, 2020, some of the Tier rules will be lifted.
However, hospitality venues like pubs and restaurants will remain closed if they are in Tier 3 areas. They can open in Tier 1 and 2 areas, with restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to “have a merry little Christmas and I’m afraid this year I really do mean little”.
While he said “we don’t want to criminalise people’s long-made plans”, he warned that people should be “extremely cautious” when mixing over Christmas.
He also advised citizens to minimise contact in the days leading up to Christmas.
The rules may be confusing for some so here are 10 answers about the UK Covid-19 restrictions over Christmas.
Meeting Friends & Family
From December 23 to December 27, you may choose to form a Christmas bubble no matter what Tier you’re in.
In the UK, regulations allow for three households. In Wales, the government have capped bubbles at two households.
A Christmas bubble will be able to spend time together in private homes, attend places of worship and meet in public outdoor spaces.
Do not meet socially with friends or family who are not part of your Christmas bubble.
If you choose not to form a Christmas bubble, continue to follow the guidance for the Tier you are in.
From December 28, Christmas bubbles will no longer apply so it is important to minimise on social contact which includes on New Years’ Eve.
The Christmas Covid-19 rules mean that Christmas bubbles will be able to attend places of worship. This applies in all Tiers.
You should continue to take precautions including making space between members of different households wherever you can.
Hospitality venues will be open if they are in Tier 1 or 2 areas.
For indoor shops and open-air shops, the rules might be different depending on the Tiers.
Santa’s grottos are able to open in all Tiers where they are located in venues otherwise permitted to open. Venues should put in place appropriate Covid-secure measures, including social distancing.
Between December 23-27, the rules on who you can meet in shops will not change.
You should continue to practise safe behaviours including shopping online where you can, avoiding crowds, and if you are in crowded areas, wearing a face covering.
You should not go shopping with your Christmas bubble.
New Year’s Eve
When it gets to New Year’s Eve, the Christmas bubbles will not apply.
In most places across the UK, that means you cannot mix with other households indoors. It is important that everyone follows these rules.
After meeting your Christmas bubble, you should reduce your contact with people you do not live with as much as possible.
This includes not meeting up with friends or family outside your household.
Hospitality venues are all required to close by 11 pm at the latest.
You should continue to attend school or college until the last day of normal term time.
Schools and colleges should not change their Christmas holidays or close early.
The temporary restriction changes do not require any children to be taken out of school prematurely.
For university students living away from home, there were able to return back during the student travel window, from December 3-9.
Students should take any test offered by their university.
All universities have been asked to move all teaching online by December 9.
Visiting Relatives in Care Homes
In all Tiers, you can continue visiting relatives in care homes, except when there is an outbreak in the care home.
Using rapid (lateral flow) tests provided to care homes, residents can have indoor visits from up to two visitors each week by Christmas.
If a visitor has a negative test, is wearing appropriate PPE, and following other infection control measures, then it may be possible to have limited physical contact with their loved one, such as providing personal care, holding hands and hugging.
Visits can also be held outside or in other Covid-secure visiting areas with social distancing and PPE in place.
Over the Christmas period, you should avoid travelling to lower-Tier areas where possible.
If you have to travel, book in advance to allow you and others to travel safely. Once at the destination, follow the rules in that Tier and avoid unnecessary travel within the area.
You cannot see your Christmas bubble before December 23, or stay with them after the December 27 except in exceptional circumstances.
When travelling, avoid making unnecessary stops during your journey and avoid sharing a car with people not in your household or Christmas bubble.
If necessary, you can stay in a hotel, hostel or B&B during the Christmas period, depending on the Tier rules. This includes Tier 3 areas between December 22 and 28, as long as you’re staying by yourself or with other members of your household, or support bubble.
You should not gather as a Christmas bubble in a hotel, hostel or B&B in any Tier unless a member of your Christmas bubble lives there permanently.
If necessary, you can stay in private rented accommodation such as short term holiday lets with members of your household, or your Christmas bubble.
You can travel abroad subject to any restrictions in place at your destination.
However, those in Tier 3 should avoid leaving their Tier other than for work, education or caring responsibilities.
Travellers will need to self-isolate for 14 days if arriving from or have travelled through a non-travel corridor country or territory.
From December 15, 2020, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the government’s travel corridor list received the option to take a test after five days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate.
You must not form a Christmas bubble if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating.
Over the Christmas period, the rules on international travel will not change.
The rules on attending events, including performances and Christmas or other festive lighting ceremonies, depend on your Tier and they were implemented on December 2.
The rules might be different for indoor and outdoor events. It is recommended to check the rules for your Tier.
Between December 23-27, the rules on indoor events will not change.
Going to Work
For those who are working over the Christmas period, you should continue to do so from home.
Only travel to work when working from home is not possible.
Here are 10 things to know when it comes to the Covid-19 rules and Christmas.
While it will not be the Christmas many of us expected, the rules do mean we can spend time with those we care most about.