Staffordshire is currently in Tier 3. This means you can see a maximum of two other households (from Tiers 1, 2 or 3) on Christmas Day by forming a “Christmas bubble”. Unfortunately, you can not see anyone from a Tier 4.
You should think very carefully about the risks and only form a Christmas bubble if you feel you absolutely need to. Wherever possible, discuss alternatives to meeting up in person.
Forming a Christmas bubble
Christmas bubbles, support bubbles and childcare bubbles are all different things and have their own specific rules, please see below for more info.
You can only form a Christmas bubble if you do not live in a Tier 4 area. As Staffordshire is in tier 3 you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble and if choose to do so you should:
- keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible. Two other households is a maximum, not a target.
- do not join a Christmas bubble with anyone from a Tier 4 area
- stop all unnecessary social contact outside your immediate household as soon as possible and for at least five days before you meet other households in your bubble
- only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
- only see your bubble on Christmas Day. Do not stay overnight and keep your visits as short as possible
- stay local where possible. Avoid travelling from a high prevalence to a low prevalence area
- only meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you live in (unless coming from a lower to a higher tier) and do not meet socially with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble
- When seeing your Christmas bubble, you should keep taking steps to reduce the spread of the virus. This includes meeting outdoors where possible, ensuring indoor spaces get as much fresh air as possible, making space between members of different households wherever you can, washing your hands regularly and for 20 seconds, and following rules on self-isolation if you develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.
- You must not visit another household if you, or anyone in your household, is feeling unwell or self-isolating. You should get a free NHS test if you have symptoms, have been asked to by your local council or your hospital, or are taking part in a government pilot project.
If you are over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable
It is particularly important to think about the greater risks to more vulnerable people whilst recognising how hard it can be to maintain good physical and mental health without essential contact with family and friends.
If you are over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable think carefully about the risks. The safest approach may be not to form a Christmas bubble
If you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble and choose to do so, be especially careful to observe the guidance:
- meet outdoors where possible
- wash your hands regularly
- keep a distance from those you do not live with
- if you meet indoors, ensure good ventilation by letting in fresh air
- If you are in an existing household or support bubble with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, the safest approach would be not to join a wider Christmas bubble to help reduce the risks to their health.
If you’re in a support bubble
If you are in an existing support bubble with someone who lives in a Tier 4 area, you can see each other on Christmas Day. If you choose to do so, you must not join a Christmas bubble with anyone else.
Existing support bubbles count as one household towards the three household limit. This means that if you are in a support bubble outside a Tier 4 area, you can collectively form a Christmas bubble with two other households. This applies only to support bubbles as set out in law. You should, however, consider the risks of doing so and keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible.
If you are in a support bubble with someone who is over 70 or clinically extremely vulnerable, think carefully. To help reduce the risks to their health, the safest approach would be to celebrate with your household or support bubble and not with others.
Outside of Tier 4, the two households in a support bubble can choose to join separate Christmas bubbles, but should avoid contact with each other both before and after Christmas Day.
If you’re in a childcare bubble
You can continue to use a childcare bubble on 25 December, including in a Tier 4 area, but only if reasonably necessary for the purposes of childcare and where there are no reasonable alternatives. If you want to meet socially with the other household in your childcare bubble, you should include them in your Christmas bubble, but can only do so if neither of you live in a Tier 4 area. You and the other household in your childcare bubble would count as two households towards the three household limit for Christmas bubbles.
Forming a different Christmas bubble to the people you live with normally
As Staffordshire is in tier 3, you are permitted to form a Christmas bubble, you are allowed to form a different Christmas bubble from the people you live with normally. If you and the people you are living with want to be in different Christmas bubbles, you can form a Christmas bubble with that household and one other household (this will count as three households).
If you’re a student who’s moved home from university for the holidays
If you are a student who has moved home for the university holidays, you are considered to be part of the household to which you have returned. You are not treated as part of your term-time household for this period.
Meeting your Christmas bubble indoors
If someone is in your Christmas bubble, you can visit each other’s homes on 25 December, but must not stay overnight. You can also go to a place of worship together, or meet in public outdoor spaces. You cannot meet your Christmas bubble in any other indoor setting, such as a pub, hotel, shop, theatre, or restaurant. In these settings, rules on who you can and cannot meet depend on your tier.
Do not meet with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you live in, but should aim to minimise all non-essential contact. If you travel to a tier with stricter rules than the one you have come from, you should follow the stricter rules that are in place.
There are specific guidelines for those who have chosen to form a different Christmas bubble from the people they normally live with, and for those who choose not to form a Christmas bubble.
We know that it’s easier to catch and spread the virus in an indoor space, especially if there is little flow of fresh air. Therefore, when meeting your Christmas bubble you should take these measures to prevent the spread of the virus:
- keep your visits short because the risk of transmission increases the longer you stay
- wash your hands frequently
- clean touch points regularly, such as door handles and surfaces
- keep socially distanced from anybody you do not live with as much as possible
- make sure you let as much fresh air in as you can during a visit and after visitors have left, without getting cold, by opening windows and doors
People may continue to work in other people’s homes where necessary, such as for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople. To reduce risk, they should observe social distancing wherever possible, and where it can be avoided should not go into homes that are hosting Christmas bubbles.
Meeting your Christmas bubble outdoors
You can be with your Christmas bubble in your garden or an outdoor public place. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are meeting in, but should aim to avoid all unnecessary contact during this period.
Outdoor public places include:
- parks, beaches, parts of the countryside open to the general public
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
Self-isolation and Christmas bubbles
You must also follow rules on self-isolation, which apply if either you, someone you live with, someone in your childcare or support bubble, or someone you have been in contact with, has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus. This means you must not form a Christmas bubble if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating. These rules are the law and you must follow them even if it means not meeting with friends or family for Christmas Day.
If a member of your Christmas bubble tests positive for coronavirus or develops coronavirus symptoms on 25 December, or up to 48 hours after members of the bubble last met, all members of the bubble must self-isolate as if they were members of the same household.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable
It is particularly important that we all think about the risks to more vulnerable people, whilst recognising how hard it can be to maintain good physical and mental health without essential contact with family and friends. If you do decide to form a Christmas bubble you should take extra precautions set out in Guidance for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Others in your bubble should be mindful of your increased risks and be extra vigilant in the days before you get together.
If you are in an existing household or support bubble with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, think carefully. To help reduce the risks to their health, the safest approach would be to celebrate with your household or support bubble and not with others.
For more information please click here.
Information correct as of 21st December 2020