Families have been urged to reduce their social interactions for 14 days in the run up to Christmas, to help prevent the risk of spreading coronavirus.
The guidance comes after the UK’s devolved governments agreed to a five day easing of lockdown rules to allow for families to meet during the festive period.
‘Reduce unnecessary contact’
Up to three households will be able to form an exclusive ‘bubble’ between December 23 and 27, allowing people to spend time together at Christmas.
If you are already in an existing support bubble, this will count as one household towards the three household limit.
Before forming and meeting with those in your bubble, government advice states: “You should reduce unnecessary contact with people you do not live with as much as possible in the two weeks before you form your Christmas bubble.
“Children should continue to go school, and workers should try and work from home if they can, and avoid unnecessary social interaction.
“Each bubble will be able to meet at home during the period, and when the bubble is formed it is fixed, and must not be changed or extended at any point.”
Social distancing ‘not necessary’
Social distancing will not be necessary in the Christmas bubbles, although people are advised to exercise restraint and judgement if they plan to mix with vulnerable friends or family.
Bubbles can also meet at a palace of worship or outdoor public spaces.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and told people to use “personal judgement” on whether to visit elderly relatives.
In a video message from Downing Street, he said: “We can’t afford to throw caution to the wind.
“Tis the season to be jolly, but ‘tis the season to be jolly careful.”
Rules on travel
The new festive rules will allow people to travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting their Christmas bubble.
Those who need to travel should return home between 23 and 27 December, and anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel from 22 and 28 December.