Christmas rules in England
In all four nations, you can meet another household, as long as it is during the five-day break.
In a joint statement, the Cabinet Office announced the leaders of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had “endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days”.
However, they “emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact”.
But what do these restrictions mean?
- Three households could meet indoors, meaning families will be able to have both sets of grandparents to stay.
- Couples can join different bubbles – so if a husband and wife want to see their own families, each can do so, although they cannot switch between these. Children of divorced parents will be allowed to split their time between two bubbles.
- While you can form a bubble with up to three households, these bubbles are not permitted inside pubs or any other hospitality venues.
- Access to pubs and restaurants will still depend on the rules of your local tier system.
- Grottos are allowed to open across all tiers, new government guidance has confirmed, but sitting on Santa’s lap is banned.
- Venues must put in place appropriate Covid-secure measures, and families are required to maintain social distancing from Father Christmas.
- Door-to-door carol singing is permitted as long as groups are outdoors and keep apart from each other.
- Those in Tier 3 are not able to attend school nativity plays and will have to live stream or watch a recording instead. Performances need to be within existing school bubbles, with no mixing across groups.
- In Tiers 1 and 2, audiences can attend “subject to appropriate safeguards being in place”.
- Over 65s in care homes will not be able to go home for Christmas.
- University students travelling back home at the end of the term will count as part of their parents’ household.
- People flying home from red-listed countries will still have to quarantine.
Government guidelines also state that people in a bubble should:
- Limit unessential contact beyond your immediate household at least five days before you mix with other homes in your bubble
- Keep your bubble as small as possible
- Only exist in one Christmas bubble
- Not change your Christmas bubble
- Only travel between tiers and UK nations to meet your Christmas bubble if necessary
- Meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
- Only mix with people outside your Christmas bubble outside your home following the rules in the tier you are meeting in
- Not meet socially with family or friends that you do not live within your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble
Christmas rules in Scotland
A majority of these rules are the same in Scotland after the four countries agreed to implement the same restrictions over the festive period.
However, despite this united agreement, the Scottish Government have set a cap of eight people over 12 years old for Christmas gatherings. They also emphasised that households should remain two metres apart while inside.
Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, fuelled rumours that the four nations may diverge their united Christmas plans, as she announced case levels in Scotland, saying, we are, “at the moment lower than in other nations” but stressed the need to consider the “evolving situation”.
The Scottish Government has also announced that people living in the same house can’t join different bubbles. They also emphasised that households should remain two metres apart while inside. Scotland will not consider existing bubbles between two households as one, whereas nations south of the border will.
Though, Ms Sturgeon has urged Scots to stay in their own homes at Christmas.
If people feel it is “essential” to meet with others indoors, she said this should be for one day only and not overnight.
The First Minister also suggested families should give each other vouchers for Christmas, for health and economic reasons, and warning she would tighten Christmas restrictions around the edges.
Christmas rules in Wales
Once again, the majority of rules set by the Government will also be rolled out across Wales.
This comes after Mr Drakeford, along with the other leaders of the three nations, agreed to continue with the easing of restrictions during Christmas, but have said they will communicate a more robust message warning people of the dangers.
However, on December 16, just minutes after the Prime Minister confirmed that plans to allow families to meet this Christmas would still go ahead, Mr Drakeford announced that Wales would go into full lockdown from December 28, after a “sustained rise in coronavirus”
The Welsh leader shared a “sustained rise in coronavirus” meant that the country would have to move into its highest level of restrictions – alert level four.
This means that only two households are allowed to mix over the festive period, and all hospitality premises will have to close their doors 6pm on Christmas Day.
This harsh limitation will be made into law, the Welsh Government has confirmed.
This news comes only hours after the First Minister stated that lowering the number of homes that can form a Christmas bubble from three to two was guidance rather than a requirement.