Covid Christmas rules: What you can and can’t do this festive period as Omicron cases soar


The rules and guidance around Covid-19 are constantly changing which means some may be confused about what they can and can’t do this Christmas – here’s a helpful guide on where we stand right now

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Covid: What are the restrictions over the Christmas period?

With the Omicron variant spreading extremely rapidly, Brits are wondering what we can and can’t do this Christmas.

Rules and guidance is constantly changing because of the rise of the near variant leaving many people confused.

The UK government’s Plan B Covid restrictions were recently introduced to fight the rapid spread of the variant across Britain.

Boris Johnson had hoped to hold off on imposing curbs on people’s daily lives until January to allow as normal a Christmas as possible..

But the new variant has since forced him to act, urging Brits to get their booster vaccinations done as soon as possible, to reduce the spread of Omicron.

A festive celebrations in Edinburgh
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Christmas has not been cancelled however, and Christmas parties are still allowed to be held.

In England and Wales there are no limit on social interactions with friends and family during the festive period.

But ministers have advised people to take a Lateral Flow test before gathering and mixing with others to ensure the risk of Covid is reduced.

And people have been encouraged to meet outdoors if possible to curb the virus.

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty said people in England should prioritise social events “that really matter to them” – but no laws have been created which will ban parties.

Customers enjoy drinks outside a pub in Covent Garden
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Mr Johnson said: “We’re not cancelling events, we’re not closing hospitality, we’re not cancelling people’s parties or their ability to mix.”

The rules are not the same for the four UK nations and in Scotland people have been asked to restrict social contact to two other households for Christmas.

In Wales, nightclubs will be closed from December 27 and in Northern Ireland, indoor gatherings should have no more than 30 people.

Brits will also still be able to enjoy a Christmas tipple or meal at their favourite pub or restaurant with family and friends.

Members of the public shopping on Princes Street, Edinburgh
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In England new restrictions have been introduced on the hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by the spread of the virus.

The capacity at venues has not been limited and social distancing rules are not being reintroduced.

But Plan C is reportedly already being drawn to slow down the spread of Omicron.

This could see the reintroduction of table service at pubs and restaurants and the requirement for vaccine passports in smaller venues.

Mask wearing has been extended to cover most public venues such as theatres and cinemas.

And face coverings will be required on public transport and many public places.

Family Christmas celebrations
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New mask-wearing rules mean they are now a requirement in English shops, post offices and banks, beauty salons and hairdressers and also when using taxis.

The rules on face coverings will not include gyms, or places where people sing such as choir practices.

But if Plan C is introduced masks could be needed in indoor places now exempt in Plan B, such as gyms and pubs.

The government said: “Face coverings have low economic costs and can be effective in reducing transmission in public and community settings.”

You are not expected to wear a mask while eating or drinking, but it is advised you wear one in “crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet”

People are advised to meet outside while Omicron surges
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People have again been asked to work from home to help stop the spread of Omicron.

This only advice at the moment and those who want to go into the office can.

Johnson said: “Go to work if you must, but work from home if you can. By reducing your contacts in the workplace you will help slow transmission.”

The government said “high levels of home working have played a very important role in preventing sustained epidemic growth”.

But ministers recognised working from home creates problems for some businesses and can impact local economies.

Venues will need vaccine passports for entry
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Vaccine passports are now a requirement for entry to large venues and will be introduced as a condition of entry under the new measures.

And those going out to heading out to enjoy the festivities must show they have been vaccinated or provide a negative lateral flow test.

The curbs will affect indoor events of more than 500 people, including music venues nightclubs.

“Crowded” outdoor events with more than 4,000 people and any event which has more 10,000 people such as sports stadiums will also face the same restrictions.

Lateral flow test kits before distribution to local business owners in Falmouth
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The government said: “Mandating vaccine-only certification would be preferable to closing venues entirely or reimposing social distancing.”

No new travel restrictions have been reintroduced after the recent tightening of rules.

Those travelling abroad for a festive break will have to take a pre-departure test before returning home.

A PCR swab will be required at arrivals before or on Day 2 in the country and travellers must quarantine until they get their result back.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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