New coronavirus rules for Christmas will allow families to gather in “limited household bubbling”, the government has said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce tomorrow (November 23) relaxed restrictions for the festive season that will allow families to celebrate together.
According to the Cabinet Office, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will all partially lift their current rules “for a small number of days”. However, it has been reported that Johnson will be unable to say during his announcement tomorrow exactly how many households will be allowed to mix or for how many days the rules will be eased.
Michael Gove met with the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the First and Deputy Ministers of Northern Ireland yesterday (21) to discuss plans.
In a statement, the Cabinet Office said: “Welcoming the good progress made by all administrations over the past few days to design a single set of arrangements that can apply across the UK, ministers reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real.”
It added that, despite the limited household bubbling, the public “will be advised to remain cautious and that, wherever possible, people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact”.
The Prime Minister’s announcement tomorrow will also include details of a tougher three-tier system for England that will come into place when the national lockdown ends on December 2.
Health experts have warned that allowing households to mix could lead to another rise in coronavirus infections. A total of 398 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today – the highest toll on a Sunday since April 19 when 432 deaths were reported.
An additional 18,662 cases of coronavirus were also reported, taking the UK’s total number of cases to over 1.5million.
When Johnson announced the current lockdown in October, he commented that Christmas would be “perhaps very different” this year. “But it’s my sincere hope and belief that by taking tough action now, we can allow families across the country to be together,” he said.