Up to three households will be allowed to meet during a 5-day period over the Christmas holiday, the government has today (November 24) announced.
From 23-27 December, people can mix in homes, outdoor spaces as well as places of worship. Travel restrictions will also be eased.
However, all the existing rules on hospitality and venues will remain.
Leaders have urged people to “think carefully about what they do” to prevent the spread of the virus and have said this “cannot be a normal Christmas.”
All four UK nations have agreed that from the 23rd to the 27th of December, you will be able to form a Christmas bubble of no more than three households.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 24, 2020
In a joint statement, the leaders of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland said: “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.
“Before deciding to come together over the festive period we urge the consideration of alternative approaches such as the use of technology or meeting outside.”
In a video message, Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “Many of us are longing to spend time with family and friends… And yet we can’t afford to throw caution to the wind.”
Meanwhile, the future of music festivals in the UK next summer received a positive boost earlier this week, after the Health Secretary suggested that life will begin to return to normal after Easter.
Matt Hancock was speaking shortly after the results of a large-scale trial of a COVID-19 vaccine which has been developed by the University of Oxford and manufacturer AstraZeneca.
The trial revealed that while the vaccine is 70 percent effective against coronavirus, it can increase to 90 percent when one half dose is given and followed by a full dose at least one month later.
He told BBC Breakfast: “Subject to that approval, we hope to be able to start vaccinating next month. The bulk of the vaccine rollout programme will be in January, February, March, and we hope that some time after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal.”