The coronavirus Christmas rules for the UK in 2020 have been announced by the government and they will involve a relaxation of lockdown restrictions that will allow extended families to form Christmas 'bubbles'.
Following the government's emergency COBRA committee meeting on Tuesday 24 November, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove confirmed that all the leaders of the devolved governments had agreed that it was important to allow people to be with their loved ones at Christmas.
The COBRA meeting was attended by the first ministers of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and so the new coronavirus Christmas rules will apply to the whole of the UK.
What are the coronavirus Christmas rules in the UK 2020?
The newly announced coronavirus Christmas rules for the UK in 2020 will allow up to three different households to form a 'Christmas bubble' together for five days over the festive period.
This five day period will start on Wednesday 23 December and end after Sunday 27 December.
Travel restrictions and the tiered lockdown systems in place across the UK will also be lifted for this five day period, allowing families who live in different parts of the UK to visit each other.
After announcing the new rules Michael Gove told SkyNews: "We all know that Christmas this year won't be as it has been in years past.
"But all the governments agreed we should balance the need to protect public health with also allowing people to be with their loved ones."
What is a Christmas bubble and what are the Christmas bubble rules?
A Christmas bubble is similar to the concept of a support bubble, but is made up of more households.
The Christmas bubble rules allow three different households to form a bubble over the five day festive period, meaning they can meet up and mix in their private homes, a place of worship or outdoor public spaces without the rule of six applying and regardless of what tier of lockdown rules their area was in before Christmas.
Those who have formed a Christmas bubble will not be required to wear face masks will together inside a private home.
Households that have formed a Christmas bubble cannot meet up inside indoor public spaces. So this includes pubs, bars and restaurants. Interactions must remain limited to outdoor spaces, private homes or places of worship.
Under the new coronavirus Christmas rules about 'Christmas bubbles', once a Christmas bubble has been formed, it cannot then be changed or extended.
This was clarified by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who explained, "You can't see two households one day and then another two households the next day."
The Scottish leader added: "We're asking people to keep well within these limits because there is a risk to households coming together…try to limit your interaction [with other households]."
🎄This will give families some leeway - we all have a desire not to leave loved ones alone at Christmas - but the virus won’t take time off, so please be cautious. If you can, stay at home with your own household. And if not, please treat these limits as a maximum to stay within. https://t.co/oVbUUDt0cONovember 24, 2020
Are the Christmas Covid rules the same in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England?
Largely yes, the Coronavirus Christmas rules will be the same in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.
Each part of the UK is set to further clarify their position and rules around support bubbles and extended households over Christmas.
However, what we do know so far is that people in Northern Ireland will be allowed a seven day window (instead of a five day window) over Christmas to allow for the time it takes to travel between NI and the rest of the UK. Their Christmas covid rules will apply from Tuesday 22 December until Monday 28 December.