coronavirus Christmas rules

Coronavirus Christmas rules: What you can and can’t do this festive season

And the one exception to the festive bubble rules

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Christmas comes with a number of rules this year thanks to coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced families will be able to meet and even hug indoors.

But these meetings are limited and the rules are pretty confusing.

So what can and can’t you do this Christmas?

Read on and we’ll help you decipher the new coronavirus Christmas rules.

family having Christmas dinner
Families have been permitted to form festive bubbles over Christmas (Credit: Photofusion/Shutterstock)

What is a festive bubble?

The government has announced that families can meet this Christmas as part of a festive bubble.

The bubble must contain no more than three households.

Read more: Non-essential shops can stay open 24 hours a day as lockdown lifts in England

And, once formed, bubbles must remain exclusive.

This means that you cannot enjoy Christmas dinner with one group on December 25 and form a different bubble on Boxing Day.

Each household in the UK can only pick two others to spend the festive season with.

When are the festive bubbles in force?

As of tomorrow (December 2), England goes back into tiers.

This means restrictions vary across the country.

However, regardless of tiers or lockdown, the whole of the UK has come together for the coronavirus Christmas rules.

The festive bubbles will be in effect from December 23 till December 27.

mum and daughter at christmas
Up to three households can meet indoors as part of a festive bubble (Credit: Pexels)

Where can the festive bubble meet?

Festive bubbles can meet indoors, in private homes.

They can also meet in private gardens, places of worship and public outdoor spaces.

However, festive bubbles cannot mix inside pubs or restaurants.

This means that single people cannot meet other single people from different households in the pub between December 23 and 27, regardless of which tier they were in before the festive bubble season.

You can also travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble.

Do festive bubbles have to socially distance?

Festive bubbles do not have to socially distance.

This means that you can finally hug someone outside of your own household.

Read more: Full list of shops and businesses reopening in England this week

However, warnings have been issued when it comes to close contact with elderly or vulnerable members of your bubble.

School age children are thought to pose a risk of passing the virus on to elderly grandparents so, while hugging your grandkids isn’t banned, it isn’t really advisable.

You can also stay overnight at the home of someone in your festive bubble or in private rented accommodation.

Extra care should be taken when mixing with elderly of vulnerable people (Credit: Pexels)

What if I’m already in a support bubble?

If you are already in a support bubble, then you can still form a festive bubble.

Existing support bubbles count as one household towards the three household limit.

This means that if you are in a support bubble, you can collectively form a Christmas bubble with two other households.

What if I’m in a childcare bubble?

Between December 23 and 27, you can continue to use a childcare bubble, but only if “reasonably necessary for the purposes of childcare and where there are no reasonable alternatives”, the government website states.

If you want to meet socially with the other household in your childcare bubble, you should include them in your Christmas bubble.

You and the other household in your childcare bubble would count as two households towards the three household limit for Christmas bubbles.

Christmas grottos

Christmas grottos have been given the go ahead to open.

However, children will not be permitted to sit on Santa’s knee.

Social distancing guidelines also need to be adhered to in order to ensure the grotto is a COVID-safe environment.

christmas 2020
Christmas will be very different for many this year (Credit: Unsplash)

What are the exceptions to the new rules?

Children of separated parents – who are aged under 18 – can go between their parents’ festive bubbles.

Nobody else should be in two bubbles.

“Nobody else should be in two bubbles,” the government website states.

What can I do to make Christmas safer for my family?

The government website advises we 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”.

Hands should be washed frequently to stop the spread of the virus.

Touch points such as door handles should also be disinfected regularly.

Doors and windows should also be opened, where possible, to allow fresh air to circulate.

Most importantly, if you are showing any coronavirus symptoms or have been diagnosed with the virus, you must not form a festive bubble.

Instead you must isolate at your own home.

Once the festive bubble window is closed, the government is advising Brits to reduce their contact with people they do not live with “as much as possible” for two weeks.

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