Limited household mixing 'to be allowed across UK' for Christmas

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

Boris Johnson will outline plans for a limited relaxation of coronavirus restrictions to allow some mixing between households across the UK for Christmas.

The prime minister is to set out the basis of plans for the festive period on Monday, as well as detailing a new tougher three-tier system for England when its national lockdown ends on December 2.

But Mr Johnson will be unable to say how many households will be allowed to mix over Christmas and for how many days restrictions will be relaxed for until a later date, it is understood.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “No agreement has been reached and discussions are continuing.”

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove met with leaders of the devolved administrations over the weekend to agree “a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days”.

But the public will be “advised to remain cautious” and told that “wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact”, a statement from his department said.

“Welcoming the good progress made by all administrations over the past few days to design a single set of arrangements that can apply across the UK, ministers reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real," the department said.

“As such, ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days, but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact.

Michael Gove met with the leaders of the devolved nations. Credit: PA

“In respect of Northern Ireland, ministers also recognised that people will want to see family and friends across the island of Ireland, and this is the subject of discussions with the Irish Government. “Work is continuing to finalise the arrangements, including relating to travel. The UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive hope to conclude this work this week, subject to agreement by each administration.”

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Mr Johnson will still detail the strengthened tiered system in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday, but the full details of the festive relaxation is not expected until after the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland consult their own cabinets.

First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted about the meeting on Sunday, saying she had “outlined the need for extra flexibility to help those travelling in either direction between Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.