The new COVID law that allows you to delay your family Christmas gathering

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
Pedestrians wearing face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk past Christmas-themed window displays inside Burlington Arcade in central London, on November 23, 2020. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest plan is to roll out mass testing to the hardest-hit areas, hoping to make enough inroads to be able to relax social restrictions in time for Christmas. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
A new COVID law allows people to delay their family Christmas gathering. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

An exception to the UK’s Christmas coronavirus laws means some families can enjoy their festive gatherings outside the allotted five-day period.

Last week, all four UK governments confirmed they had agreed a coronavirus strategy that will allow families to reunite between 23 and 27 December.

Under this temporary relaxation of household mixing rules, three households will be able to join in a “bubble” during this period.

However, an exception to these dates exists in the Health Protection Regulations 2020, which were published on Monday.

Watch: What do we know about the Christmas bubble rules?

The law says that if any one person is unable to return to the household due to travel disruption, they can choose to have the five-day gathering outside the permitted period between 23 and 27 December.

It states:

Exception is that (a) the gathering takes place during the Christmas period or, where sub-paragraph applies, immediately after the Christmas period.

This sub-paragraph applies where one or more persons at the gathering have not been able to return to their home because of unforeseen disruption to travel.

The Christmas rules are part of the new legislation setting out exactly what the law will be in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 after the national lockdown ends on Tuesday.

The regulations also state, for example, where a Christmas bubble of three households can visit, aside from the host home.

This is any public outdoor place where “no payment is required” to access it, or:

  • an outdoor sports ground or sports facilities

  • botanical gardens

  • gardens or grounds of a castle, stately home, historic house or other heritage site

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises the government on coronavirus matters, has previously raised concern that “increased transmission is likely to result from more social mixing during celebrations”, and that the Christmas bubbles could prompt rule-breaking for other special occasions, such as people’s birthdays.

Read more:

The Tier 3 COVID lockdown rules explained

The Tier 2 COVID lockdown rules explained

What tier are you in? Full list of lockdown areas

Watch: How England's new three-tier COVID system will work