Christmas rules: 3 households will be able to form covid bubble for 5 days – but not in the pub


THREE households will be able to meet up inside for five days over Christmas in a much-needed boost for the nation after a gruelling year of Covid rules.

Social distancing and travel rules will be scrapped from December 23 to 27 so Brits can hug their grannies and see their friends as part of a festive plan hammered out on Tuesday.

Three households will be allowed to meet at Christmas in a deal which will see social distancing scrapped
Boris Johnson warned families to consider the risks of seeing vulnerable over the Christmas period

In a boost for the nation after months of crippling restrictions, the UK nations have secured a deal for Brits to be able to see loved ones at last – but they won’t be allowed to go to the pub together.

The details of the plan include:

  • Leaders hammered out a plan to allow people to meet up for several days over the festive period from the 23rd to the 27th
  • Three households will be allowed to meet up with no limits on numbers
  • They will have to form an exclusive bubble and not meet others during that time
  • There will be a relaxation of restrictions on overnight stays, and people will be allowed to travel freely across Tiers
  • People in their ‘Christmas bubble’ will be able to go to other people’s homes, church or public spaces together – but wont be able to go to the pub or out for meals in any indoor settings

Social distancing won’t need to be kept to during the five day relaxation of the rules, but ministers will remind people to be alert of the risks of spreading the virus.

There will be some differences between the four nations of the UK, however, on what counts as a bubble and how people can split up to see family.

Cops won’t be expected to patrol to enforce the new rules – but will step in if people break them by hosting huge gatherings and hold parties.

We imagine what Boris would look like as one of the boys from Merry Christmas Everybody rock band Slade

Shortly after the announcement, Boris Johnson tweeted a video asking people to consider the risks of seeing vulnerable people even though the rules have relaxed.

The Prime Minister said: “The virus doesn’t know it’s Christmas and we must all be careful.”

Mr Johnson added: “I know this doesn’t equate to a normal Christmas and it won’t work for everyone and it is up to each of us to think carefully about how we use this special time-limited dispensation.

“The virus has not gone away and families will have to make a personal judgement about the risk of forming a bubble with or visiting elderly relatives and the vulnerable. 

“Tis the season to be jolly but tis also the season to be jolly careful.”

Speaking following the meeting, Mr Gove said last night: “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.”

But British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “These plans for Christmas make a mockery of the extra restrictions being placed on pubs and the economic devastation they are facing this Christmas.

“How can it be that pubs cannot properly open while households can mix in private settings?

“The Government data has consistently shown that house-to-house transmission is one of the highest, whereas hospitality has accounted for as little as two per cent of Covid incidences when open.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had agreed to a “cautious and limited” relaxation of coronavirus rules for Christmas, but stressed there would be no further relaxation of measures at New Year — a big blow for Hogmanay-loving Scots.

Michael Gove coordinated leaders yesterday to hammer out the deal

Nicola Sturgeon said the rules could differ slightly in Scotland


People will only be able to form a ‘Christmas bubble’ with up to two other households – with the rule of six scrapped.

Shared households in England – such as friends sharing a flat, or a couple who wanted to see different parents – would be able to split up to join another household for the five-day period.

But they won’t be able to do this in Scotland – possibly splitting up millions of families.

In England, university students returning from halls at the end of term would automatically rejoin their family household and therefore not be included as a separate household.

The Tier rules won’t be completely scrapped for Christmas – and will apply in areas where the new bubbles rules don’t cover them.

So if people are in Tier 1, the rule of six will apply.

If they are in Tier 2 they will only be allowed to go to the pub or out for dinner with people they already live with – not the whole Christmas bubble.

And if they are in Tier 3, the pubs will be shut at Christmas anyway.

People who are working shifts over the Christmas period won’t be able to move the dates.

And sadly, people aged over 65 in care homes will not be able to join their families for Christmas under the new guidance.


The rules will be slightly different across the four nations of the UK.

People travelling to Northern Ireland will get an extra day or two either side of the dates in order to travel home and back again.

In England, support bubbles will continue to be counted as one household – but this isn’t the case in Scotland.

And from next week, parents with a baby under one year old can form a support bubble with another household in England.

Brits living in the top level of restrictions are likely to be able to legally go abroad on holiday – but will be discouraged from making anything apart from essential journeys for the festive season.


Ministers have come up with a last-ditch bid to save Christmas

Ministers have come up with a last-ditch bid to save Christmas which they hope Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will sign off

It’s likely that extra rules will be needed in the run up to Christmas and afterwards to control the impact of allowing families to mix.

Although cases have been steadily falling this week, 11,299 more positive cases were reported on Tuesday, along with more than 600 deaths.

Britain will go into a tier system next Wednesday after the national lockdown in England ends.

More places are expected to be put into the top level – Tier 3 – which will see pubs, restaurants and indoor entertainment shut.

People will be banned from household mixing until Christmas.

In Tier 2 they will also be unable to see other households inside, and can’t drink at the pub without having a substantial meal either.

Gyms, beauty salons and shops are set to reopen.

There were major efforts under way on Monday from local leaders, MPs and business not to plunge areas into the toughest restrictions.

And there was a cross-party effort to stop London going into Tier 3, led by Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan and his Tory challenger Shaun Bailey.

Meanwhile, Tory MPs have begged the Government to save Christmas carol singing this year.

The group, led by ex-Cabinet minister Esther McVey, said the services will help lift the nation’s spirits after a bleak year and raise millions for charities.