Three households will be able to form festive bubbles to spend Christmas together

The UK Government and the devolved administrations have agreed that people will be able to join “Christmas bubbles” to allow families to meet up over the festive period.

The joint approach was agreed despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus as a result of families coming together over Christmas.

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When are household restrictions easing?

The temporary easing of measures will allow three households to mix in a bubble from December 23 to 27.

Not a 'normal' Christmas

In a joint statement, the four UK governments said: “As 2020 draws to a close, we recognise it has been an incredibly difficult year for us all.

“We have all had to make significant sacrifices in our everyday lives, and many religious and community groups have already had to change or forgo their customary celebrations to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

“This cannot be a ‘normal’ Christmas. But as we approach the festive period, we have been working closely together to find a way for family and friends to see each other, even if it is for a short time, and recognising that it must be both limited and cautious.”

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Where can family bubbles meet?

Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place.

However, the existing, more restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout the period.

What have the leaders said?

Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who was chairing the talks, said it was a chance for people to "meet close friends and family in a very restricted fashion, in order to ensure that those we love can be with us at this special season".

He added: "We all know that Christmas this year won't be as it has been in years past. But all the governments agreed we should balance the need to protect public health with also allowing people to be with their loved ones."

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Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford commented: “We have to recognise that Christmas is a very important time for people, and that you have to have a set of rules that people will be prepared to operate within.

“While I have hesitation, because of the state of the virus in Wales and across the United Kingdom, it is better that we have a common set of arrangements that give people a framework that they can manage within and act responsibly within as well.”

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the agreement, but reiterated that the rules would not be relaxed for Hogmanay.

She explained: "The last thing we want to do right now is set our progress back and negate all of these hard sacrifices we have made in the last eight months."