Making a Christmas Bubble with Friends and Family

Published: Friday, 11 December 2020

Government guidance for seeing family and friends over the Christmas period.

The festive period is an important time for many people of all faiths and none who come together over the holidays. The UK Government and Devolved Administrations recognise that people will want to be with their friends and family over Christmas, particularly after an incredibly difficult year.

For this reason, the government is changing some social contact restrictions for a short period of time. When following these new rules, we must each continue to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and protect our loved ones, particularly if they are vulnerable. For many, this will mean that it isn’t possible to celebrate Christmas in the way you normally would.

What you need to know

Between 23 and 27 December:

  • you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households
  • you can only be in one Christmas bubble
  • you cannot change your Christmas bubble
  • you can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble
  • you can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • you can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier where you are staying
  • you cannot meet someone in a private dwelling who is not part of your household or Christmas bubble

You should travel to meet those in your Christmas bubble and return home between the 23 and 27 December. Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22 and 28 December.

A fixed bubble is a sensible and proportionate way to balance the desire to spend time with others over the Christmas period, while limiting the risk of spreading infection. However, 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. You should consider ways to celebrate Christmas in other ways, such as the use of technology and meeting outdoors, without bringing households together or travelling between different parts of the country.

Forming a bubble if you are vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable carries additional risks - see advice for clinically vulnerable people.

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 ensuring indoor spaces get as much fresh air as possible, washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, and following rules on self-isolation if you develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus. 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.

Forming a Christmas bubble

Christmas bubbles, support bubbles and childcare bubbles are all different things and have their own specific rules.

The rules on forming and using a Christmas bubble will be the law. You must follow them to minimise the spread of infection.

Everyone is allowed 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

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. See information on self-isolation and Christmas bubbles.

If you’re in a support bubble

Existing support bubbles count as one household towards the three household limit. This means that if you are in a support bubble, you can collectively form a Christmas bubble with two other households. This applies only to support bubbles as set out in law. You should, however, consider the risks of doing so and keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible.

Read guidance on making and using a support bubble

Further guidance can be found on the Government website.