Coronavirus regulations guidance: restrictions for Christmas
It is important that everyone stays safe at Christmas. From 23 to the 27 December, limited changes are being made to household restrictions to allow some social contact. With any increase in social contact, comes increased risk, so it is important that you take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect your loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable.
What you need to know
For many it won’t be possible to celebrate Christmas in the “normal” way.
Between 23 and 27 December:
- you can form one ‘Christmas bubble’ – this can be composed of up to three households and one of the three households can include an existing bubble arrangement
- the households in your bubble cannot be part of other Christmas bubbles during the 5 day period
- you cannot change your bubble mid-way through – once you are in a Christmas bubble you can’t start another with a different household
- there is no upper limit on the number of people within the Christmas bubble who can meet indoors at any one time – it is important that you keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible
- you must stop contact with any pre-existing bubble that is not part of your Christmas bubble and you must wait 14 days from the last visit of the original linked household before starting your new Christmas bubble
- if anyone in the Christmas bubble tests positive for Covid-19, all members of the bubble will be required to isolate for 14 days
- within Northern Ireland, you should travel to meet your Christmas bubble and return home within the designated window (23 – 27 December)
- if you are travelling outside of Northern Ireland to meet your Christmas bubble you can do so between 22 and 28 December, if necessary
- you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private dwellings, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place
- regulations on meeting people in other settings will remain in place
COVID-19 Christmas restrictions booklet
The restrictions are also available as a downloadable booklet:
How to stay safe
The more people you see, the more likely it is that you will catch or spread coronavirus (COVID-19). You can spread coronavirus to others, even if you and the people you meet have no symptoms.
You and the other people in your Christmas bubble need to consider these risks carefully before agreeing to form a bubble. Forming a bubble when you are vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable carries additional risks. Give careful consideration to using alternative approaches, such as the use of technology or meeting outside.
You should keep taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus, and this will help ensure that the festive period is as safe as possible. This includes:
- limiting your contact with others before forming your bubble
- ensuring indoor spaces get as much fresh air as possible
- following rules on self-isolation
- washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
Forming a Christmas bubble
If you decide to form a Christmas bubble there are three main rules:
- you can only be in one Christmas bubble
- you cannot change your Christmas bubble
- your Christmas bubble should not include people from more than three households, and one of the three households can include an existing bubble arrangement
It is important that you keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible.
You must not form a Christmas bubble if you are self-isolating.
Separated parents of children under 18
Children (under-18) whose parents do not live together may be part of both parents’ Christmas bubbles, if their parents choose to form separate bubbles. Nobody else should be in two bubbles.
Forming a different Christmas bubble to the people you live with normally
You are allowed to form a different Christmas bubble from the people you live with normally. If you, and the people you are living with, want to be in different Christmas bubbles, you can choose to stay somewhere else with different people for this period.
You can also form a Christmas bubble with that household and one other household (this will count as three households).
Meeting with your Christmas bubble, and other friends and family
Everybody in a Christmas bubble is responsible for taking clear steps to prevent catching and spreading the virus. If you do not follow these rules, you increase the risk of catching the virus, and spreading it to your friends and family.
You should take particular care to follow this advice if you are in a Christmas bubble with anybody who is vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable.