What are the coronavirus rules for Christmas?

Last updated at 07:26
boy-wearing-mask-in-christmas-shopGetty Images

A deal has been reached by the four nations of the UK which means some coronavirus rules will be temporarily relaxed over the festive period.

Leaders from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales agreed a joint approach to Christmas at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Up to three households will be allowed to come together during a five-day period between 23 and 27 December, but people are being urged to be cautious and to keep their 'Christmas bubbles' as small as possible.

The groupings must be "exclusive", meaning people can't get together with family or friends from more than two other households.

A joint statement issued by the four UK governments said: "This cannot be a 'normal' Christmas. But as we approach the festive period, we have been working closely together to find a way for family and friends to see each other, even if it is for a short time, and recognising that it must be both limited and cautious."

People are being asked to "think carefully" about what they do over the festive season, especially when it comes to those who are vulnerable. They're being encouraged to still consider different ways of keeping in touch such as "the use of technology or meeting outside".

The statement added: "Even where it is within the rules, meeting with friends and family over Christmas will be a personal judgement for individuals to take, mindful of the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable.

"We need everyone to think carefully about what they do during this period, balancing some increased social contact with the need to keep the risk of increased transmission of the virus as low as possible."

Woman in face masks looking at Christmas treesPA Media

While it's a UK-wide plan, there are already different rules in different parts of the UK, so this could mean there's some variation across the four nations, for example in the definition of a household.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "While I have hesitation, because of the state of the virus in Wales and across the United Kingdom, it is better that we have a common set of arrangements that give people a framework that they can manage within and act responsibly within as well."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Just because you can mix with others indoors over this time, that doesn't mean you have to. If you choose to stick with the rules as they are, then you will be continuing the hard work to beat this virus and prevent its spread."

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the announcement saying she hoped it would give people space to plan.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said it was a "message of hope" but has urged people to be responsible, safe and mindful of healthcare workers.

"Think, can you meet up differently, can you go for a walk, for example, with a family member?" she said.

Your Comments

Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.

62 comments
  • I really miss my great grandar beacause he had a heart attack 😢❤
    Message from Newsround

    We're sorry to hear that you are going through a difficult time. It could really help to talk to someone about how you are feeling. You can confide in any trusted adult such as a parent, relative or teacher, but if there is no one you feel you can speak to, you can call Childline on 0800 11 11 - calls are free, confidential and won't show up on any bill. You can also visit the Childline website at childline.org.uk, and there is a free Childline app you can download called For Me.

    Do try to speak to someone as soon as possible. You might be surprised to find out how much better you feel when you share your feelings.

    Newsround