Following the outbreak of the more contagious mutation of the Covid virus in the South East of England, the planned five day relaxation of social distancing restrictions over Christmas has been tightened across the country.

On December 25 only you may choose to form an exclusive Christmas bubble if you feel you need to, with people from no more than three households.

If you choose to form a Christmas bubble:

  • keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible. Two other households is a maximum, not a target
  • do not join a Christmas bubble with anyone from a Tier 4 area
  • stop all unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible and for at least five days before you meet other households in your bubble
  • only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • only see your bubble on Christmas Day. Do not stay overnight and keep your visits as short as possible
  • stay local where possible. Avoid travelling from a high prevalence to a low prevalence area
  • only meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you live in (unless coming from a lower to a higher tier) and do not meet socially with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble.

When seeing your Christmas bubble, you should keep taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus. This includes meeting outdoors where possible, ensuring indoor spaces get as much fresh air as possible, making space between members of different households wherever you can, washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, and following rules on self-isolation if you develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.

You must not visit another household if you, or anyone in your household, is feeling unwell or self-isolating. You should get a free NHS test if you have symptoms, have been asked to by your local council or your hospital, or are taking part in a government pilot project.

It is particularly important to think about the greater risks to more vulnerable people whilst recognising how hard it can be to maintain good physical and mental health without essential contact with family and friends.

The North East remains in Tier 3 and all other restrictions, including around hospitality and entertainment, will not change and you should follow the rules in your tier.

For full guidance visit: