Christmas is fast approaching, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and constant restriction changes mean that Brits are struggling to make plans for the big day.
Political leaders are being urged to come together and create standardised guidance across the UK for the festive period, as currently, the rules for each country vary massively.
The Liberal Democrats and Alliance Party wrote a letter warning Boris Johnson and other political leaders to ‘accept the inevitability’ that people will try to travel to see family this holiday season.
Here is all you need to know about the current guidelines on travelling to meet family this Christmas, the rule of six, and going inside their homes for Christmas dinner.
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Are you allowed to travel to meet family at Christmas?
Though non-essential travel is generally discouraged, the only current travel restrictions are between Wales and any other part of the UK with high levels of coronavirus.
Travelling between tiers in England is fine, as long as you only travel with members of your household.
This means that – as things stand – you can go on a Christmas stroll with your family members.
However, rules on overnight stays vary across the UK so you must check local restrictions using the Government Postcode checker as you may need to book into a hotel if you are staying for a few days.
In England, Scotland, and Wales a total of six people can meet outdoors at any one time. In Northern Ireland, the maximum number is 15.
Remember that all children count towards the six people in England. In Scotland, children under the age of 12 do not count towards the total, the same goes for children under the age of 11 in Wales.
The logistics of getting UK students back home for Christmas in a safe way has yet to be announced.
So far, 118 UK universities have experienced Covid-19 outbreaks, including 1,000 students at Durham University.
It is expected that there will be a staggered end of term for students, with their final few weeks of classes being held solely online – or even a two-week student lockdown.
Will the rule of six be lifted for Christmas?
The rule of six may very well be lifted for Christmas day, meaning that larger families can congregate.
When asked by ITV earlier this month what criteria the country would have to meet to allow Christmas dinners of more than six people, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘The answer is that we have to get the R, the reproduction rate of the virus, below 1.
‘If we can just follow that guidance… then we can get the R down… I ask people to stick with it if you possibly can.’
The R rate on October 23 was 1.2-1.4, so we have a long way to go yet.
However, you should refrain from meeting up in large groups if the rules aren’t lifted, as the West Midlands police and crime commissioner said that police ‘will break up parties at Christmas’.
Can you celebrate Christmas inside other people’s homes?
Environment secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast that it’s ‘too early to say’ what the restrictions will be on Christmas, but Brits ‘may not be able to get together in the larger groups that they normally would.’
As things stand, it does not look like the majority of the UK will be able to celebrate Christmas in other people’s homes, which means that eating Christmas dinner with the extended family could be off-limits.
However, the coronavirus restrictions get reviewed every few weeks, so it is possible that political leaders will ease rules on indoor social gatherings for the big day.
Currently, in England, those living in tiers two and three are not allowed to enter other households’ private homes.
Those living in tier one can enter other people’s homes, so long as they remain socially distanced.
In Scotland, those living in level two, three, and four will not be able to meet inside private homes.
However, eight people from up to three different households can meet in level zero, and six people from two households in level one.
Northern Ireland and Wales have a blanket ban on entering other people’s homes outside of your extended household or household bubble.
None of the governments have commented on whether this will be lifted for Christmas day.
Will social distancing be lifted for Christmas?
It is currently unclear whether social distancing will be lifted for Christmas, but it is unlikely.
This means that you probably can’t give your nan a cuddle to say thank you for your present.
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