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26th November 2020

New Covid-19 Christmas restrictions announced

At Christmas, coronavirus restrictions will be eased to allow people to mix with a slightly wider circle of family and friends. The new restrictions will be a temporary replacement for the tier system.

Please bear in mind that these restrictions apply to the general population and not to CLL patients, who may be shielding. You should consider carefully what level of risk you are prepared to take, perhaps after consulting your medical team.

Across the UK, people will be able to form “bubbles” of three households over a five-day period. It is intended that the whole of the UK will have similar rules.

Who am I allowed to see?

Between 23 and 27 December, the three households will be allowed to form a temporary “Christmas bubble”. They can mix indoors and stay overnight.

Northern Ireland has been granted a longer window of 22 to 28 December, to allow time to travel between the nations. Please see below.

Bubbles will be allowed to meet each other:
• In each other’s homes
• At a place of worship
• In an outdoor public space, or garden

The bubbles will be fixed, so you will not be able to mix with two households on Christmas Day and two different ones on Boxing Day. Households in your Christmas bubble can’t bubble with anyone else.

There will be no limit to the number of people in a household joining a bubble.

However, the rules about what counts as a household will depend on where you are. In England if you have formed a support bubble with another household, that counts as one household, so you can join with two other households in a Christmas bubble.

People who are self-isolating should not join a Christmas bubble. If someone tests positive or develops coronavirus symptoms up to 48 hours after the Christmas bubble last met, everyone will have to self-isolate.

Official guidance on Christmas bubbles

Where am I allowed to travel in the UK?

Travel restrictions will be lifted to allow people to visit their families anywhere in the UK.  But the government has warned that there will not be extra public transport laid on.  It has urged people to plan their travel in advance.

What if a family member is in an at-risk group?

The virus will not call a truce because it is Christmas, and will be as contagious as at any other time, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Even if it is within the rules, meeting friends and family over Christmas will be a “personal judgement”, the government says.

People should consider the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable.

Can all my children come home for Christmas?

Children of parents who live apart are allowed to be part of two separate Christmas bubbles. This means they can see both parents without being counted as part of another household.

University students may return to their parents in the early December “travel window” and be counted as part of their household straight away.

But if parents have three or more grown-up children who are not at university, then they cannot all form a Christmas bubble with their parents.

Individual households can split for Christmas. So, if three people are sharing a home, they can all go and form separate Christmas bubbles with their families and come back to form a single household again afterwards.

What if I am in a care home or want to visit someone who is?

In England, care home residents have been told not to take part in Christmas bubbles, while visits out of the home should only be considered by residents who are of “working age”. This is because of the increased risk of the resident catching coronavirus, and spreading it to other vulnerable people when they return, the government says.

People are asked to consider whether visiting at the care home would “provide meaningful contact in a safer way”, while residents who do leave will be tested and asked to isolate when they return.