Does the thought of families being allowed to mix over Christmas make you feel anxious or relieved?
Three households can form festive bubbles so families can meet for Christmas.
The arrangements will apply from December 23 to 27 after talks between the UK Government and leaders from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
People will be able to join “Christmas bubbles” to allow families to reunite over the festive period.
The UK Government and devolved administrations have agreed the approach despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
The temporary easing of measures will allow three households to mix in a bubble from December 23 to 27.
Social distancing will be relaxed within the bubbles, giving people the chance to hug friends and family for the first time in months.
Boris Johnson acknowledged the measures would not add up to a “normal Christmas” and urged people to exercise caution – particularly when meeting with the elderly or the vulnerable.
“We can’t afford to throw caution to the wind. The virus doesn’t know it’s Christmas and we must all be careful,” he said in a video message posted on Twitter.
“I know this doesn’t equate to a normal Christmas and it won’t work for everyone. It is up to each of us to think carefully about how we use this time-limited special dispensation.”
A joint statement issued by the four UK governments said they had been working closely together to find a way for family and friends to see each other, recognising it must be “limited and cautious”.
Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place, but existing, more restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout the period.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told the PA news agency: “We have to recognise that Christmas is a very important time for people, and that you have to have a set of rules that people will be prepared to operate within.
“While I have hesitation, because of the state of the virus in Wales and across the United Kingdom, it is better that we have a common set of arrangements that give people a framework that they can manage within and act responsibly within as well.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We know that for some, contact with friends and family is crucial during this time as isolation and loneliness can hit people especially hard over the Christmas period. The ‘bubble’ approach aims to reduce this impact.”
But she warned there would be no further easing of measures for Hogmanay and “even this short relaxation will give the virus a chance to spread”.
She added: “Just because you can mix with others indoors over this time, that doesn’t mean you have to.
The bubbles will have to be exclusive over the five-day period, meaning people cannot shift from one group to another – although children whose parents are separated will be allowed to move between them.
People aged over 65 in care homes will not be able to join their families for Christmas.
In families where three children live away from home, they would not all be able to return for Christmas.
However, university students returning from halls at the end of term would automatically form part of their family household.
Although social distancing will not be necessary, people will be advised to exercise restraint and judgment if they plan to mix with vulnerable friends or family.
What are your views? Have you made plans yet? With the vaccine coming and an end in sight does mixing over Christmas make sense to you? Is it important to give families the choice?
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