Here’s how the Christmas rules will differ across England, NI, Scotland and Wales


BORIS Johnson and leaders of the four nations have hashed out an agreement to let Brits across the UK reunite for Christmas.

But the rules will still differ slightly as they have throughout the coronavirus crisis.

People will be able to join up in “festive bubble” but it will be different across the UK

Boris Johnson announced the Christmas agreement this evening

For five days between December 23 and December 27 people will be able to join up in “festive bubbles”.

But the four nations have not been able to come to a common agreement on how many people will be able to sit around at the same table.


The new tougher Tiers of local lockdown – set to come in next Wednesday – which ban separate households mixing indoors in Tier 2 and 3 will be suspended.

And the rule of six in Tier 1 will be lifted for the 5 day Christmas period.

Three households in England will be able to join up in a “Christmas bubble”.

It means families will be able to invite both sets of grandparents over for a Christmas dinner.

And in England, people who live with other people, such as flatmates, will be able to split up and form separate Christmas bubbles.

It means couples’ won’t have to choose between which set of parents spend Christmas with – but if they split up they won’t be able to see the other bubble over the relaxed period.

People will only be able to see their Christmas bubbles at homes, in places of worship and outdoors.


Scotland currently has a travel ban in place – meaning it is illegal for people in the strictest Level 3 and Level 4 lockdowns to leave their local area.

This is set to be lifted for the Christmas period so families who do not live nearby can see one another.

But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon disagreed with the PM and will not let people who live together to form separate Christmas bubbles.

Brits who live in house-shares in Scotland will need to choose one bubble to spend Christmas with as a whole.

The Scottish First Minister Ms Sturgeon suggested she was in disagreement about who should count as part of a household bubble for the holidays.

She warned today: “I know everyone has a desire to see loved ones over the festive period. However there is also a very real and legitimate anxiety that doing so could put those we love at risk, set back our progress as a country and result in unnecessary deaths and suffering.”

In tough Level 3 lockdowns, pubs and restaurants must close at 6pm and are not allowed to serve booze at all.

In Level 4, all hospitality has been forced to close their doors.

Ms Sturgeon has not signalled whether these drastic rules will be lifted over Christmas to let people get holiday drinks within their household.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there will be different measures in Scotland

Wales is set to bring in a similar Tiered system to England


Wales will follow almost identical rules to England – allowing three households to form a bubble from December 23 to December 27.

But First Minister Mark Drakeford said today: “This has been a very long and difficult year for everyone.

“All our lives have been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone has done so much to help control the spread of the virus and to save lives.

“But that has meant many sacrifices, including not seeing family and close friends. We are all looking forward to Christmas and a chance to spend some time with all those we hold dear.”

And he is looking to bring in a Tiered system “broadly aligned” with the UK.

This will be in place both in the run up to and over Christmas, as well as for the rest of winter.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland will be plunged into another lockdown on November 27 – just a week after the end of their circuit breaker shutdown.

All non-essential retail, hospitality and beauty and leisure businesses will be forced to close.

But there is relaxation on the horizon just in time for Christmas.

And people in Northern Ireland – or those travelling there – will get an extra day either side of the 5 days festive break.

It will give people more time to travel to and from Northern Ireland to see their loved ones.

First Minister Arlene Foster is also trying to hash out a festive season deal with Ireland along with the new agreement with the UK.