Is Christmas cancelled? Everything you need to know about new restrictions

New rules announced less than a week before Christmas

<p>Christmas easing of rules has been shelved</p>

Christmas easing of rules has been shelved

New restrictions have been announced overturning the relaxation of the rules over the festive period.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the nation in a live press conference that, following surging numbers of coronavirus cases, the Christmas window allowing people to form bubbles of up to three separate households from 23 to 27 December would be scrapped.

He also announced that a new Tier 4 band had been created, with rules similar to those of the November lockdown, for certain areas with the highest rates of Covid-19. It follows a new strain of coronavirus being identified which is thought to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than the original.

But can families still meet and spend time together this Christmas, or is Christmas effectively cancelled? Here’s what you need to know.

Can families in Tier 4 meet for Christmas?

In Tier 4 areas, people are not permitted to mix indoors with anyone not in their own household or support bubble over the festive period. This includes Christmas Day.

Read more: What are the rules for tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4?

Tier 4 restrictions are similar to those enforced during the November lockdown – so people in these areas may meet up with one other person from another household outdoors, perhaps for a Christmas stroll.

The following areas are in Tier 4: London; Kent; Buckinghamshire; Berkshire; Surrey (excluding Waverley); the boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings; Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough; Hertfordshire; and Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

Can families in other tiers meet for Christmas?  

The original plan of allowing families and friends to meet in Christmas “bubbles” of up to three households over five days has now been shelved. However, those in tiers 1-3 may still form a Christmas bubble of up to three households just for Christmas Day, allowing them to spend time together indoors.

These privileges are not extended to the rest of the festive period, and Mr Johnson was very clear that there would be no relaxation of the rules over New Year.

Can you travel to meet loved ones?

From 20 December those in Tier 4 must not travel outside their area and are not allowed to travel abroad (except for essential purposes, such as work).

The government has set out additional guidance for other tiers as well, advising everyone to stay local where possible.  

While international travel is not banned for those in other tiers as it has been in Tier 4, people are advised to consider whether their travel is essential right now.

Can you go Christmas shopping?

In tiers 1-3, you should still be able to frequent non-essential shops. However, in Tier 4, all non-essential retail must shut until at least 30 December, when the rules will be reviewed.

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