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Christmas coronavirus plans announced across UK

Christmas 800 Photo: PA

Christmas coronavirus plans announced across UK

Up to three households will be allowed to get together at Christmas anywhere across the UK, the leaders of the four UK nations have agreed.

Overnight stays will be allowed and travel restrictions will also be lifted between the 23rd and 27th of December.

But the three household ‘bubbles’ must be exclusive over the five days, meaning no further mixing will be allowed.

People can meet in each other’s homes or at a place of worship or in an outdoor public space.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “just because you can mix with others indoors over this time, that doesn’t mean you have to”.

She added that people choosing not to take advantage of the temporary flexibility will be “continuing the hard work to beat this virus and prevent its spread”.

Bubbles should be formed only between households – meaning people in a household may not form their own separate bubbles.

The rules will apply in all settings including hospitality and entertainment settings.

No further relaxing of measures will be allowed for the Hogmanay period.

Households deciding to form bubbles will be advised to limit social contact before and after the period of relaxation.

The Scottish Government plans to release further advice on what precautions people can take to make the arrangement as safe as possible.

Leaders across the UK agreed the plans after a Cobra meeting chaired by Michael Gove on Tuesday afternoon.

Sturgeon said: “We know that for some, contact with friends and family is crucial during this time as isolation and loneliness can hit people especially hard over the Christmas period. The “bubble” approach aims to reduce this impact.

“But we must be clear, there cannot be any further relaxation of measures for Hogmanay.  Even this short relaxation will give the virus a chance to spread. Our priority is to suppress transmission of COVID-19 and reduce the risk to the vulnerable and those who have spent so long shielding - and that involves abiding by the rules.

“Just because you can mix with others indoors over this time, that doesn’t mean you have to. If you choose to stick with the rules as they are, then you will be continuing the hard work to beat this virus and prevent its spread.”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said: “The UK-wide agreement reached today will offer hope for families and friends who have made many sacrifices over this difficult year.

“We know that the Christmas period this year will not be normal, but following constructive discussions between the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations, families and friends will now have the option to meet up in a limited and cautious way across the UK should they wish.

“In coming to this agreement, we have listened to scientific and clinical advice on how best to minimise the risk and reach a balanced and workable set of rules that we hope will allow people to spend time together at this important time of year.”

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