With Christmas falling during the pandemic, the government has announced a relaxing of social distancing rules over the festive period.
Boris Johnson and leaders from the devolved administrations have agreed a joint plan to relax coronavirus restrictions from 23 to 27 December, allowing friends and family to meet up hug for the first time in months.
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”.
Johnson himself warned families they must make a “personal judgement” about the risks of coronavirus to vulnerable loved ones when forming a Christmas bubble, and urged the public to “think carefully”.
Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, and a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, warned that easing measures would lead to increased transmission and a possible “third wave” of infection.
Despite the new measures, families and groups of friends will still face difficult decisions and restrictions on their activities.
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 loved ones for Christmas, and in families where three children live away from home, they will not all be able to return for the festive period.