The UK Government and the Devolved Administrations have agreed on joint arrangements for an easing of social restrictions that will allow friends and loved ones to reunite over the Christmas period.
Three households will be able to form a ‘Christmas bubble’ to mix for five days during the festive period. The relaxation of coronavirus restrictions will come between December 23rd and 27th, allowing relatives to celebrate Christmas together at home. Christmas bubbles will have to be exclusive over the five day period, meaning people cannot move from one three-house group to another.
Bubbles will only be able to gather in private homes, go to outdoor public spaces and attend places of worship together – they will not be able to meet together in hospitality settings.
Those travelling to and from Northern Ireland will be granted an extra day to travel on either side of the window.
Following a meeting between the UK Government and devolved administrations to agree the measures, the four nations released the joint statement which warned that this year cannot be a ‘normal’ Christmas.
Speaking following the meeting, The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, said: ‘The UK-wide agreement reached today will offer hope for families and friends who have made many sacrifices over this difficult year.
We know that the Christmas period this year will not be normal, but following constructive discussions between the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations, families and friends will now have the option to meet up in a limited and cautious way across the UK should they wish.
In coming to this agreement, we have listened to scientific and clinical advice on how best to minimise the risk and reach a balanced and workable set of rules that we hope will allow people to spend time together at this important time of year.”
As part of the agreement, each administration will be reminding households that they should remain alert to the risks still posed by the virus and consider how, where possible, they can celebrate and support more isolated friends and loved ones through alternative approaches such as video calls and meeting outdoors.
When following these new rules, people are reminded to continue to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable. Forming a bubble for those who are vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable carries additional risks.
The four parts of the UK will work together to communicate these new measures across the country and ensure that communities are aware of any variations in approaches.
Details of the new measures can be found in the joint statement, agreed today.