Covid cases are on the rise as we head toward Christmas and a new set of restrictions are now in place in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant.
Alongside encouragement to get the vaccine and maintain protection against Covid by getting a booster jab, here’s a look at what Christmas might look like for us ahead of the holidays.
– Will I be able to see my friends and family at Christmas?
There are no rules in place in England or Wales to limit social interaction with friends and family, but in the run-up to Christmas we have been encouraged to meet outdoors if possible as this reduces the risk of catching or spreading Covid.
Those in Scotland have been asked to restrict social contact to two other households either side of Christmas, while those in Northern Ireland have been told indoor gatherings should have no more than 30 people present.
– Where am I required to wear a face covering over the holidays?
From December 10, face coverings have been required by law in most indoor settings and on public transport across the UK, unless you are exempt.
A mask or face shield is not legally required in hospitality settings such as cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. This exemption also applies to gyms and nightclubs, as it is not recommended you wear a face covering while exercising or during “strenuous physical activity”.
You are not expected to wear a face covering 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”.
– Will I be able to host or attend Christmas parties?
While chief medical officer Professor Chris Witty urged people in England to prioritise social events “that really matter to them”, there are no laws in place prohibiting Christmas parties in England, Boris Johnson confirmed.
“We’re not cancelling events, we’re not closing hospitality, we’re not cancelling people’s parties or their ability to mix,” the Prime Minister said.
And while there are also no legal restrictions on this in Wales, the Cardiff & Vale Health Board tweeted on Saturday that they “strongly discourage attending Christmas parties”.
As mentioned, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has asked people to limit social contact to two households and people in Northern Ireland must not hold gatherings of over 30.
– What if I have family abroad? Can I visit them for Christmas?
The guidance on travel abroad maintains that you should not visit countries or territories on the UK’s red list – of which there are currently none.
Restrictions may still be in place for Britons travelling to a certain country, according to that country’s rules and requirements.
From midnight on Friday, people arriving from Britain to France will be required to show a negative Covid test that is less than 24 hours old, to test again on arrival and self-isolate for seven days, although that can be reduced to 48 hours if the second test is negative.
– Where am I required to show my NHS Covid Pass or proof of a negative test?
Across the UK, certain venues and events are now legally required to check that visitors over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated (two doses) or have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours.
Visitors will need to do this for entry into nightclubs, indoor events with 500+ people, outdoor events with 4,000+ people or any venue with 10,000+ people.
– Am I expected to work from home?
In order to limit the spread of Covid as Christmas approaches, England’s guidance is people should work from home if they can. If you cannot work from home, you should continue to go into work – but are encouraged to consider taking lateral flow tests regularly.
Northern Ireland also recommends working from home where possible, maintaining that employees should consult with their staff to determine who needs to come into the workplace.
In Scotland, employers are legally required to allow their staff to work from home and employers in Wales, while not by law, are encouraged to do the same.