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Can I leave my flatshare this Christmas?

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This page was last updated at 12.15pm on 25 November 2020.

It’s the question we’ve all been asking since England was placed back into lockdown on 5 November: what will Christmas be like this year?

While there’s no doubt that the festive period will be very different to normal, the leaders of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this week announced that different households and families will be allowed to spend Christmas together – with a few rules.

Who can I see, and when?

Between 23 and 27 December 2020, three households will be allowed to join up and form a “Christmas bubble” – allowing them to socialise indoors and stay overnight. This means you can meet family and/or friends in each other’s home, at a place of worship, or in an outdoor public space or garden. There’s no limit to how many people in a household can join the bubble either – good news for big families.

The catch? These bubbles will be fixed, so you can’t see two households on Christmas Day and another two on Boxing Day.

Unfortunately you can’t meet your bubble in other indoor settings – so pubs, theatres, restaurants and shops are off limits (for now).

If you’re self-isolating, you should stay put and not join a bubble for Christmas. If anyone in a bubble tests positive or develops coronavirus symptoms up to 48hrs after your last meeting, everyone else in the bubble should self isolate.

What counts as a household?

The rules around what counts as a household differ across the UK.

In England, existing “support bubbles” will count as one household towards the three household limit. You can also choose to form a different Christmas bubble that’s outside the people you normally live with, so flatsharers can go to their separate homes and bubble with their own families. Students are automatically considered to be part of the household they’ve returned to for Christmas.

The rules vary slightly depending on which country you’re in so check your local guidance you’re in another part of the UK.

Can I travel anywhere in the UK?

Yes – this temporary lifting of restrictions covers the whole of the UK, so you can visit relatives and friends anywhere. Individuals can travel between tiers and into other countries without restriction. Those travelling to Northern Ireland will be permitted an extra day on either side to allow for travel time, so can bubble between 22 and 28 December 2020.

However, government advice recommends planning travel in advance as no extra public transport services will be laid on to support higher demand.

Find out more

For more advice about Christmas bubbles and what you can/can’t do, please refer to gov.uk.

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Although we endeavour to keep our coronavirus (COVID-19) content as accurate and as up to date as possible, the situation is rapidly changing, so please ensure you refer to gov.uk for the latest advice and information.

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