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Government announces Christmas bubble guidance now applies to Christmas Day only

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The Government has announced significant changes to its guidance concerning the Christmas period for Tier 1-3 areas including only allowing up to three households to meet on Christmas Day only, rather than the five days as previously set out.

The full Government guidance is here and is also reproduced below.

This Christmas, it’s safest if you spend time only with your own household or support bubble. On 25 December you may choose to form a Christmas bubble if you feel you really need to. This only applies to people who do not live in a Tier 4 area.

A Christmas bubble can meet in a private home, a place of worship or an outdoor public space. In all other settings, if you do form a Christmas bubble, you must still follow the rules for the tier you meet in which in South Somerset is Tier 2.

After Christmas

From 26 December, you must follow the Tier 2 guidance in South Somerset. Christmas bubbles will no longer apply. That means you cannot mix with other households indoors, including on New Years’ Eve.

Those who choose to form a Christmas bubble should exercise additional caution and cut down on unnecessary social contact after seeing their Christmas bubble to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

If you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble and choose to do so:

  • keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible. Two other households is a maximum, not a target
  • do not join a Christmas bubble with anyone from a Tier 4 area
  • stop all unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible and for at least five days before you meet other households in your bubble
  • only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • only see your bubble on Christmas Day. Do not stay overnight and keep your visits as short as possible

New Year's Eve

You must follow the rules according to your tier on where you can go and who you can meet on New Year’s Eve. Your Christmas bubble will no longer apply. In most places across the UK, that means you cannot mix with other households indoors. One in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it. It is essential that these rules are followed by everyone.

Hospitality venues are all required to close by 23:00 at the latest.

Travel Within The UK

If you are permitted to join a Christmas bubble on 25 December, you should consider carefully the risks of travelling to see them. Anyone who lives in an area with a higher level of prevalence, for example, tier 3 in England, should avoid travelling to lower prevalence areas where possible. If you have to travel, book ahead to enable you and others to travel safely and plan your outwards and return journeys carefully. Once at your destination, you should follow the rules in that tier, stay local and avoid unnecessary travel within the area after you arrive.

If you plan to travel to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you should read guidance from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland before you travel.

You cannot mix with the other households in your Christmas bubble (unless otherwise permitted by your tier rules) before or after 25 December except in exceptional circumstances (for example, in the event of unforeseen travel disruption, or if a member of your Christmas bubble develops symptoms of coronavirus and you are required to self-isolate). This includes anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland.

Transport routes may be busier than normal. You should:

  • plan ahead, check for disruption before you leave, and avoid the busiest routes, as well as busy times
  • avoid making unnecessary stops during your journey
  • avoid sharing a car with people not in your household or Christmas bubble
  • keep your distance from other people when you travel, where possible
  • wash or sanitise your hands regularly
  • wear a face covering on public transport in England unless you’re exempt

If necessary, you can stay in a hotel, hostel or B&B in England during the Christmas period, in line with the rules in your tier. This includes in a tier 3 area between 24 and 26 December, as long as you’re staying by yourself or with other members of your household, or support bubble. You should not gather as a Christmas bubble in a hotel, hostel or B&B in any tier unless a member of your Christmas bubble lives there permanently.

If necessary, you can stay in private rented accommodation such as short term holiday lets with members of your household, or your Christmas bubble.

If you need to travel with your Christmas bubble, wherever you are, you should follow Safer Travel guidance.

Here are extracts from a speech given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson today which sets out the details currently released: "I am sorry to report that the situation has deteriorated since I last spoke to you three days ago.

"Yesterday afternoon, I was briefed on the latest data showing the virus spreading more rapidly in London, the South East and the East of England than would be expected given the tough restrictions which are already in place.

"I also received an explanation for why the virus is spreading more rapidly in these areas. It appears this spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus, which we first learned about earlier this week.

"There is no evidence the variant causes more severe illness or higher mortality, but it does appear to be passed on significantly more easily.

"As Prime Minister, it is my duty to take the difficult decisions, to do what is right to protect the people of this country.

"Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.

"The Christmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only, rather than the five days as previously set out.

"As before, there will be no relaxation on 31 December, so people must not break the rules at New Year.

"I know how much emotion people invest in this time of year, and how important it is for grandparents to see their grandchildren, and for families to be together.

"So I know how disappointing this will be, but we have said throughout this pandemic that we must and we will be guided by the science.

"When the science changes, we must change our response.

"When the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defence.

"As your Prime Minister, I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me. Without action, the evidence suggests infections would soar, hospitals would become overwhelmed and many thousands more would lose their lives.

"Yes, Christmas this year will be very different, but we must be realistic.

"We are sacrificing our chance to see loved ones this Christmas, so we have a better chance of protecting their lives so we can see them at future Christmases.

"As sure as night follows day, we will beat back this virus.

"We will defeat it.

"And we will reclaim our lives."

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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