UK nations back 'additional bubbling' plan for Covid-19 Christmas

People pass Christmas market stalls in Cardiff, where restrictions across Wales have been relaxed following a two-week "firebreak" lockdown.

A relaxation of coronavirus restrictions "for a small number of days" over Christmas is being planned, with ministers from the Welsh and UK governments having agreed to work towards allowing a limited level of mixing between households over the festive period.

Along with the leaders of Scotland and Northern Ireland the Welsh Government have said they will look at what they are calling “additional bubbling” but only for a few days around Christmas.

The Welsh Government say they have not reached agreement on all details yet nor on travel rules.

Health minister Vaughan Gething said: "We are talking about what household mixing might look like...we haven't agreed any numbers around that."

The Cabinet Office on Sunday said that leaders across the UK had endorsed an objective of "some limited additional household bubbling" will be permitted over the Christmas period for a small number of days.

Credit: PA

UK Government Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove met with leaders of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to endorse "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.

During the press conference on Monday, Vaughan Gething said that indoor mixing is the "area of greatest concern" for spreading coronavirus.

He called for people to consider taking a "complete break" from seeing others before they travelled to stay with family and friends over Christmas.

He added: "I haven't been in my mother's house to be indoors and to give her a hug since March.

"I'd love to see my mum and go inside her house this Christmas, but I want to see my mum on her birthday when it comes up again next year and I want to see her on my birthday, on my son's birthday and I want to see her next Christmas too.

"So some of our challenges are about what we need to do very differently this year to make sure we can still celebrate future life events with our loved ones." 

Mr Gove, Wales's Mark Drakeford, Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon and Northern Ireland's Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill "reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way" in a meeting on Saturday.

  • Watch the press conference in full:

The Cabinet Office said talks are continuing to finalise the agreement, including over travel arrangements, but that it is hoped the conclusion will come "this week", while the Scottish Government said "no agreement has been reached".

Talks between the governments will continue this week and full details of Christmas relaxation plans are not expected until after the first ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have consulted their own cabinets.