Christmas this year will see three families allowed to meet up for five days in an easing of coronavirus restrictions.
All four UK nations have agreed that people will be able to form ‘bubbles’ and can gather indoors to enjoy the festive period.
Travel restrictions across the whole of the UK will also be lifted during the short period to allow people to go home for Christmas.
However, Nicola Sturgeon has urged the public to be wary of the risks of mixing over the festive period – and says rules may be slightly ‘different’ to England.
She said: “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.”
So, what exactly are the rules for over the festive period? Here’s everything you need to know about Christmas bubbles:
Who can meet up?
Between December 23 and 27, three families are allowed to form a temporary ‘Christmas bubble’.
In Northern Ireland two extra days are added on to allow travel backwards and forwards to other parts of the UK.
These bubbles will be allowed to meet each other:
- In each other’s homes
- At a place of worship
- In an outdoor public space
However, the extended bubble cannot meet in hospitality settings, restaurants, bars or other indoor entertainment venues.
People can continue to meet friends and family outwith the Christmas bubble outside homes, but only according to the rules in the tier where people are staying.
The bubbles should remain fixed over the five-day period, meaning you can’t pick and choose to see two different households on the same day.
Households should not use all five days and should keep visits to no more than one or two days if possible.
People who are self-isolating should not join a Christmas bubble.
Can you travel?
Travel restrictions will be lifted to allow people to visit their families anywhere in the UK.
Households can travel between local authorities and between the four nations during the five-day window.
However,it is likely there will not be extra public transport laid on.
Will rules be different on Hogmanay?
Nicola Stugeon said the relaxation of restrictions will not be extended to cover New Year’s Eve.
The First Minister said: “I know New Year is special for people, perhaps slightly more so in Scotland than in other parts of the UK, but the virus is still there.”
What is a bubble?
The Scottish Government has published advice on how to form a Christmas bubble.
Further detailed guidance is set to be published and may differ from England.
The rules are:
- A “bubble” should be formed household to household only (i.e. different people in a household should not pick their own bubble)
- Between 23 and 27 December, people can meet in an exclusive “bubble” composed of three households
- You should stay with your “bubble” where they are hosting you and you should follow the travel advice for the level you are in (e.g. people being hosted in a level 3 area cannot go on an outing to a level 2 area)
- Within your “bubble”, you can gather in a home, an outdoor place or a place of worship
- In all other settings – eg. hospitality, entertainment venues – those who have formed a bubble must only socialise with members of their own household
- Households deciding to form a bubble will be advised to limit social contact before and after the period of relaxation