Mark Drakeford, First Minister
Yesterday I met the First Ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from the UK Government, and we were able to agree a common four-nation plan for the festive period.
2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for us all and we have all had to make significant sacrifices in our everyday lives. We recognise the contribution everyone has made to help control the spread of the virus.
Many religious and community groups have had to change or forgo their customary celebrations to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives. Christmas time is the biggest shut down in modern UK and this natural period of reduced economic activity provides a focal point for families and friends to gather, of any faith or none.
While we are all looking forward to being able to see friends and family for a short time, this cannot be a ‘normal’ Christmas; it must be both limited and cautious. Even where it is within the rules, meeting with friends and family over Christmas will be a personal judgement for individuals to take, mindful of the risks to themselves and others. We need everyone to think carefully about what they do during this period, balancing some increased social contact with the need to keep the risk of increased transmission of the virus as low as possible. This is particularly important when considering those who are vulnerable. To protect them, we should consider whether to meet in person or whether there are safer ways of keeping in touch.
The four administrations have reached agreement on a single set of UK-wide measures to help people come together with their loved ones in a way that is as safe as possible:
- Travel restrictions across the four administrations and between tiers will be lifted to provide a window for households to come together between the 23 and 27 of December.
- Up to three households can form an exclusive ‘bubble’ to meet at home during this period. When a bubble is formed it is fixed, and must not be changed or extended further at any point.
- Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place, but rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout this period.
It is important that everyone respects and abides by the rules of each nation, wherever they choose to spend the festive period. Where there are variations, these will be set out in guidance.
There will be particular pressure on roads and public transport during this period, so if we need to travel, we must plan ahead.
Many have already begun making their plans, and the four nations have worked together to provide simplicity and clarity to help people make the right choices for them, and enjoy time with those closest to them while staying within the rules to protect us all