Extended families are set to celebrate Christmas together as families will be allowed to temporarily ‘bubble’ for up to five days.
Ministers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed to allow “some extra limited household bubbles for a small number of days” over Christmas, the Cabinet Office has said.
But after a meeting on Saturday, they “reiterated the importance of allowing family and friends to meet in a cautious and limited manner, while acknowledging that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real. “.
Families will have to pick their own bubble in advance and be allowed to spend time at home with them – including in the pub, according to reports.
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While it has been confirmed that all four UK governments have agreed to allow additional bubbles during the festive period, further details have not yet been agreed.
More information is expected next week in time so families can design their own Christmas plans.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said there will be extra household bubbles limited for a small number of days.
The full statement from the Cabinet Office reads: “Ministers reiterated the importance of allowing family and friends to meet in a cautious and restricted manner, while acknowledging that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain. very real.
“As such, the Ministers supported a common objective to alleviate some additional limited household bubbles for a small number of days, but also stressed that the public would be advised to remain vigilant and that wherever possible people should avoid travel and minimize social contacts. “
They added: “With regard to Northern Ireland, the Ministers also acknowledged that people will want to see family and friends throughout the island of Ireland, and this is the subject of discussions with the Irish Government.”
Reports suggest that three, or perhaps four, families may be allowed to meet, but this is yet to be confirmed.
The ban on family mixing is likely to be lifted for Christmas Eve and Christmas day until the bank’s late holiday on December 28th.
The government is also in discussions on how it can allow some pantomimes to move forward during the festive period.
Today the death toll in the UK rose to 398 – although officials blamed a data error for the peak (compared to a rise of 198 last Sunday).
There is a warning on the Covid-19 control panel in the UK that “due to a processing update, 141 deaths previously published within 28 days in England were excluded from data published on 21 November.
“This issue has now been corrected for the data published on November 22, which includes the deaths left yesterday in today’s total.”
The UK total is now 55.024.
The England blockade is set to be lifted on December 2 – but will be replaced by a tougher, updated level system, based on infection rates.
The three-level Covid-19 restraint system will need to be strengthened to move the country through the winter months, a senior health official warned.
The system, introduced last month, without areas located in different categories labeled medium, high or very high risk, with the medium level also referred to as Tier 1, high as Tier 2 and very high and Tier 3.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government hopes the national blockade will be replaced on December 2 with a level system “similar to what we had before”.
But Dr Susan Hopkins, an epidemiologist, said Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions had “little effect” as the impact of Tier 2 varied from country to country.
In Northern Ireland shoppers have been asked to stay safe and follow regulations in the days before a stricter set of restrictions takes effect.
A severe circuit breakdown will close for two weeks non-core retail, hospitality and close contact services.
The strict ban, which is close to the severity of the March blockade with the exception that schools will remain open, will take effect next Friday.
Retail NI said it is expecting an increase in buyers in the coming days.
“We would encourage buyers to stay safe and follow executive instructions,” said retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts.