Can I still meet other households and see my family at Christmas?
Yes, as long as it is during the five-day break.
Under Government plans to rescue Christmas, families will be able to enjoy Christmas together from December 23 to December 27, as long as they remain within the household limit set by the government.
On November 24, the Government confirmed that up to three households can meet indoors, meaning families will be able to have both sets of grandparents to stay.
Read more: Christmas gift guide – best ideas for 2020
Will pubs be open over Christmas?
This depends on whether you live in a ‘high alert area’.
In Tier 3, areas where the alert level is ‘very high’, all pubs and hospitality venues must close.
In Tier 2, where the alert level is ‘high’, pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. This means that pubs can only serve alcohol with substantial meals and can only open if they are serving food. Last orders must be at 10pm with a closing time of 11pm.
In Tier 1, where the alert level is ‘medium’, all pubs and bar are able to reopen but must operate table service only. Pubs in this tier do not need offer substantial meals to serve alcohol. The rule of six still applies and last orders must be at 10pm with closing time at 11pm.
Although during the Christmas period you can form a bubble with up to three households, these bubbles are not permitted inside pubs or any other hospitality venues.
What about New Years Celebrations?
While we all want to celebrate the end of this year, the Health Secretary has warned the nation not to “blow it – especially with the vaccine on the horizon”.
Mr Hancock shared his understanding that the relaxation of the rules would only last for five days, meaning celebrations on New Year’s Eve are subject to the harsh tier restrictions. At a press conference from Downing Street, Matt Hancock was asked whether families can celebrate New Year’s Eve with their families, to which the Health Secretary replied: “The answer to the question is yes, if you live with them in your household.”
Grottos are allowed, but no sitting on Santa’s lap
Grottos are allowed to open across all tiers, new government guidance has confirmed, but sitting on Santa’s lap is banned.
Venues must put in place appropriate Covid-secure measures and families are required to maintain social distancing from Father Christmas.
Door-to-door carol singing is permitted as long as groups are outdoors and keep apart from each other.
However, those in Tier 3 are not able to attend school nativity plays and will have to live stream or watch a recording instead.
Performances need to be within existing school bubbles, with no mixing across groups.
In Tiers 1 and 2 audiences are able to attend “subject to appropriate safeguards being in place”.
Can I travel over Christmas?
During the press briefing on December 16, the Prime Minister urged the public not to travel from “high prevalence” areas to places with fewer coronavirus case rates, and he asked people not to stay overnight where possible.
The green list of travel corridor countries, which Britons can visit without needing to self-isolate upon return, is shrinking, but quarantine will be lifted for those who test negative for Covid-19 on the fifth day of isolation.
This means that families can travel to high-risk “red list” countries to visit relatives over the festive period without necessarily having to quarantine for two weeks on their return.
Travel corridors and travel restrictions are continuously reassessed based on the rise in cases and R rates, among other factors. While the official guidance discourages all non-essential travel, you may still be allowed to travel internationally – as long as you are aware of the risks and restrictions.
Travelling against official government advice is not illegal, but most tour operators will not offer trips to destinations which the Foreign Office (FCO) deems unsafe. In a pandemic, that’s just about everywhere – and it does make travel insurance complicated.
If you choose to visit a country to which the FCO advises against travel without invalidating your insurance – here’s what you need to know.
How to have a Covid-secure Christmas
To ensure family gatherings at Christmas are as safe as they can be, it will be important to adhere Government guidelines.
It would probably be best to also do your Christmas shopping early for both gifts and food, to avoid the Christmas Eve rush to the supermarket or late package deliveries.
Since families are likely to spend more time at home this year, make the most of it by creating your own Christmas decorations or playing Elf on the Shelf. But most of all, try not to be miserable this Christmas – and to focus on your mental and physical wellbeing as much as the situation allows.
What will Christmas be like during coronavirus?
Although Christmas may not be what we are used to this year, the five-day festive break brings positive news as people are able to celebrate together.
However, the Cabinet Office urged people to still meet family and friends 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”.
What we do know: expect a mask and hand sanitiser under the tree.
Will there be a firebreaker lockdown after Christmas?
The Prime Minister has reportedly been warned by scientific advisers not to “throw fuel on the fire” by allowing gatherings over the festive period. This comes as medical experts warn of a potential third wave in the new year.
Then, at press briefing from Downing Street on December 14, Matt Hancock was asked if we can expect a fire breaker lockdown after Christmas. The Health Secretary did not give a definitive answer, but he did ask people to remain “careful and cautious, especially ahead of Christmas”. He added the tier system should be enough to keep the virus under control and protect hospitals over the festive period.
The Chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, also recognised the risk, but suggested the Government is searching to find a “really difficult balance”.
At the same press conference, the Health Secretary stated that the possible rise in cases over Christmas “depends on people’s behaviour”.
Mr Hanock continued: “The most important thing is that people are cautious and careful ahead of Christmas, and during Christmas, and hence we’re saying that so clearly”.
“It isn’t about, you know, doing the maximum that the rules allow, it’s about taking personal responsibility.”