How Many People Can I See At Christmas?

Here's what we know about family gatherings under the latest UK rules.

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With a month until Christmas, many of us have been quietly hoping some time with our families will be on the cards after a long year of separation. On Nov. 24, the government finally announced their plans to ease coronavirus restrictions across the UK for a set period of time. So you may be wanting to know what the new rules are, specifically, how many people can we see at Christmas? Here’s everything you need to know.

What Are The Rules For Christmas In The UK?

On Nov. 24, the government announced their plans to ease coronavirus restrictions over the Christmas period. Across the UK, people will be able to form "bubbles" of no more than three households over a five day period, between Dec. 23 - Dec. 27. Northern Ireland has been granted a slightly longer period between Dec. 22 - Dec. 28, in order to allow people to travel across nations.

What Are The Rules For New Year's?

These new rules do not include New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Restrictions for these holidays will presumably be dictated according to each nation’s individual tiered system.

How Will The Christmas Coronavirus Bubbles Work?

Those in each new bubble are allowed to see each other within their homes, along with outdoor spaces and places of worship. The bubbles are fixed, meaning you cannot see different people on different days.

There will be no limit to the amount of people in a household joining a bubble, meaning whether you have a small or big family, you can still join with two others.

However, it is important to note that certain rules on what counts as a household will vary depending on which nation you live in. For example, in England, if you have formed a support bubble with another household already (i.e. if you both live alone), then that counts as one household rather than two, meaning you can join two more.

Households can come from different UK nations however, as travel restrictions have been relaxed over the Christmas period, meaning you can travel to get to family.

Of course, these new rules do not extend to those who are self-isolating during the Christmas period, or to those who begin to experience symptoms of the virus.

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Is It Safe To Have People Round For Christmas?

While we are technically allowed to see family from two other households over Christmas this year, it doesn’t necessarily mean we will all feel comfortable doing so.

As we all know, coronavirus is spread when you are physically close to someone with the illness, which is why social gatherings come with a set of risks.

Not seeing friends and family over Christmas is a tough pill to swallow but as ITV's Dr. Hilary Jones said on Good Morning Britain, festive get-togethers are "massive cause for concern."

"There is a huge popularity for the idea of families to be together for Christmas," Dr. Hilary said. "But the virus only takes a matter of minutes or even seconds to spread. Unless we stop different households getting together, the R rate is going to increase and the situation is going to get worse."

Some scientists think that the government are putting too much emphasis on planning for Christmas, and have warned against it. According to Professor Andrew Hayward, one of the scientists advising the government: “My personal view is we're putting far too much emphasis on having a near-normal Christmas. We know respiratory infections peak in January so throwing fuel on the fire over Christmas can only contribute to this."

Since the government’s Christmas COVID announcements, scientists have continued to express concern over mixing inside over the festive period. Professor Graham Medley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, for example, explained how he believes that those deciding to see family over Christmas will result in “a lot of people in hospital” and the country having to “take measures in January to lock down again.”

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