Will I be able to see my family at Christmas? How household restrictions and rule of six could impact the festive season

Scotland’s First Minister has warned it is not possible to predict what restrictions will be needed at Christmas

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 4:28 pm

Coronavirus restrictions have tightened in recent weeks in an effort to curb rising infection rates.

The tougher measures, which have seen a ban on household mixing indoors and a 10pm curfew imposed on bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues, has raised concerns over what the situation will be at Christmas.

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What has been said about restrictions over Christmas?

Limits on social gatherings could be in place for some time
Limits on social gatherings could be in place for some time

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the most recent restrictions, including the ‘rule of six’ and the 10pm curfew, could be in place for as long as six months.

Scotland’s First Minister also implied that measures limiting social gatherings could be in place for some time, although she refused to suggest such a timeline was likely.

Visits to other households indoors are currently banned in Scotland, aside from limited exceptions, as of 25 September.

The new rules state that people must not meet people from any other households in their home, or another person’s home, socially, unless they are part of an extended household.

However, Ms Sturgeon suggested that rules would “not necessarily” need to be in place for six months, adding that the restrictions will be reviewed every three weeks.

The First Minister said it was her hope that there would be a “greater degree of normality” by late December, but warned it would not be possible to make any definitive predictions about the situation at Christmas.

She said: "Christmas really matters to people and we want it to be as normal as possible. But we are in a global pandemic and if I was to stand here right now and say categorically that certain things could or couldn’t happen at Christmas I wouldn’t be being fair to people.

“As we get closer to Christmas we will have a better idea of what might be and what might be possible.

“The only thing I can say with I suppose even a smidgeon of certainty right now is that the more we collectively work together to bring it under control right now, perhaps the more prospect there will be of having some greater degree of normality by Christmas. But even that is a statement that is shrouded in some caveats.”

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How would Christmas look under current restrictions?

If rules stay as they are now, families in different households will not be allowed to gather together indoors to enjoy Christmas dinner.

A maximum of six people from two households can currently meet in public indoor spaces, such as pubs, restaurants and cafes, meaning small family get-togethers could potentially take place outside of the home.

Children under the age of 12 from those two households do not count towards the limit of six.

As for private gardens or public outdoor spaces, a maximum of six people from two households are allowed to meet, making way for activities like Christmas day walks.

However, guidance states that you should limit the total number of households you meet in a day as far as possible.

What Christmas events have been cancelled?

Public events for Edinburgh’s Christmas festivals have been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns, organisers have announced.

Edinburgh City Council and event producers Underbelly said in a statement that any event which could attract a gathering or crowd would be avoided, including market stalls, rides and “all other attractions”.

Organisers said the decision followed the “latest advice” from public health experts and that Edinburgh’s Christmas events would instead move online.

Previously organisers had hoped to have a reduced event in the city centre, but this plan has since been abandoned. Organisers said: “It is now clear that the best place to experience Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay will be from home.”

Edinburgh City Council has stressed that while the absence of popular events is disappointing, Edinburgh’s Christmas is not cancelled and there will be digital events to look forward to in place of the Hogmanay festival.

City council leader Adam McVey said: “Whilst we understand the absence of popular events will bring some disappointment, we want to be clear that Edinburgh’s Christmas isn’t cancelled and our businesses right across the city will be offering their usual festive cheer for us to take advantage of.

“We look forward to announcing details of an innovative digital 2020 programme soon to help in these celebrations.”