British Prime Minister Boris Johnson chairs cabinet meeting in London

The plans for the UK to remain unified in committing to the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions appear to be faltering.

In an unscheduled press conference on Saturday evening, Boris Johnson announced that the government’s plans for the country over the Christmas period has had to be scrapped. 

The prime minister said, “In England, those living in tier 4 areas should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place, for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation. Across the rest of the country, 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.”

The three-house bubble, which the government had advised households wishing to mix for the days in and around Christmas Day has now been scrapped nationwide. The government has now said that the three households will now only be allowed to mix on Christmas Day itself although this doesn’t apply to tier 4 who should not mix at all.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has announced that cases are not as high as they are in the rest of the UK but they may take action to stop the spread of the new strain.

Wales are taking matters a step further, announcing another lockdown fresh off the back of the Christmas bubbles, from December 28th. They have also reduced their household bubble figure down from 3 to 2.

The British Medical Journal and the Health Service Journal had previously made a joint call for the government to rethink their strategy, claiming ‘they can no longer claim to be ‘protecting the NHS’' if they don’t.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick took a harsher stance than that of the prime minister on the Today Programme.  Earlier this week he said: “We want everybody in the country to have those conversations around the breakfast table this morning and in the days ahead, and decide what’s sensible for them and their family.” 

He conceded that bringing people together ‘will have consequences’ and went as far to say that ‘Easter can be the new Christmas’ for some.

Families that have already made extensive travel, food and accommodation plans after being told they were legally allowed to do so will not be greeting the latest ‘guidance’ with open arms.

So in England Boris Johnson isn’t changing the Covid-19 Christmas guidelines just yet.

So what are they?

  • Households can only meet on 25th December with those in tier 4 banned from gathering in other households, with Northern Ireland allowing an extra day for travel. You must avoid unnecessary social interaction at either side of this period if you plan on forming a bubble.
  • Those traveling to tier 4 areas from lower are only being advised to do so if ‘necessary.’ Anyone in tier 4 is advised against travel, especially abroad.
  • Bubbles can now only mix on Christmas Day but overnight stays are not advised. Those in tier 4 can now only see one other person from outside their household on Christmas Day and it must be outside.
  • It is not acceptable to take your bubble to hospitality spaces such as pubs and restaurants, but you can spend time in outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches.
  • You can meet people outside your bubble individually and outside according to whatever tiered rules apply.

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