Covid in Scotland: Your questions answered on Christmas rules

Covid in Scotland: Your questions answered on Christmas rules

Covid restrictions are being relaxed to allow people to create household bubbles on Christmas Day.

The rules are being eased for just for one day, rather than the five originally planned, and mainland Scotland will then enter level four restrictions from Boxing Day onwards.

We have answered some of your questions about what you can and cannot do over the festive season.

Travel restrictions are being relaxed on Christmas Day, when people can meet in bubbles of up to eight people from three households.

If you or your family are not already in another Christmas bubble you can form one just to meet outside. The Scottish government has advised that bubbles should meet outdoors if they can to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

If you don’t form a bubble you must follow the rules in the local authority area where you live. That means you cannot travel in or out of level three or four council areas for social visits.

If you live in a level one area you will be able to meet outside in groups of up to eight adults from three households. Those in higher levels can meet in groups of up to six adults from two households. Children under the age of 12 from these households do not count towards the total number of people in a gathering.

Young people aged between 12 and 17 can still meet up in groups of up to six outdoors and are not subject to the two household limit, but physical distancing is required.

The Christmas restriction of eight people from three households, plus children under 12 from those households, is now the legal maximum.

The government’s latest guidance strongly advises people to minimize the size of any gathering as much as possible, saying: “The smaller the bubble the better and safer it will be.”

No, your sister-in-law lives within England’s toughest lockdown area and is not allowed to travel out of London.

In addition, it is also illegal to travel into or out of Scotland, and that restriction remains in place over Christmas. Journeys are only permitted for essential reasons.

Aberdeen is currently in level three and will move into level four on 26 December. Under both those levels, travel in and out of the city is not permitted, although there are exemptions to this for essential purposes.

If your sister lives alone and is in a support bubble with you, although she could travel to see you the advice is that it would be best if she forms a support bubble with a household who live locally.

If this is not possible she will be able travel to see you at any time. These extended households can be cross-border but must follow the local rules when they are visiting each other.

You are allowed to return home to Scotland from another country at any time, although travel from some countries will require self-isolation for 10 days after arrival.

This Christmas, travellers from some countries may find their plans are disrupted as other nations close their borders due to fears over the new Covid variant in the UK.

Places of worship are still restricted to a total of 50 people in levels one, two and three.

These rules for church congregations will remain on Christmas Day, but those in “bubbles” will be able to attend together, rather than as separate households. They must maintain physical distancing from those outside their household.

By Boxing Day, all of mainland Scotland will be in level four, reducing the permitted congregation size to 20.

This should not be necessary because all areas of the Scottish mainland will move into level four restrictions on 26 December.

Indoor socialising will not be allowed and hospitality venues such as restaurants, cafes and pubs will be closed. Any contact outside your household or support bubble should be outdoors and physical distancing should be maintained.

Some island communities will be in level three, but people in those areas will still be expected to keep their distance from others outside their own home.

The government guidance on Christmas bubbles says you can meet with your bubble in a home, but does not specify whose home.

But it must be in the local authority area in which one of you lives. You cannot use a second home in another area.

You are not allowed to travel out of Scotland and your journey must take place within 24 hours on Christmas Day itself, from midnight to midnight.

No. You can only have people from two other households visiting your home at Christmas, even if they come at different times.

The Scottish government recommends that indoor visits should only take place if they are essential, such as to help reduce loneliness and isolation.

The legal maximum is eight people from three households (plus children under 12 years of age from the three households). Only one of the households can be an extended household.

The government advises that smaller bubbles are safer and suggests meeting outside where possible.

It states: “The safest way to celebrate Christmas this year is with your own household in your own home – and as far as possible, to keep any interaction with other households to a minimum.”

If you are eating out on Christmas Day, you cannot meet your bubble in a restaurant. Gatherings for bubbles are limited to homes, outside or places of worship.

You may decide to have your meal before Christmas, when you will be able to dine in a restaurant in groups of up to six from two households, plus children under 12 from those households.

Yes, your brother can form an extended household at Christmas, or any other time, as long he lives alone or only with children under 18.

He and your parents must not already be in a support bubble with anyone else.

The guidance in Scotland states that anyone changing bubble must wait 14 days between leaving one extended household and joining another.

The list of travel exemptions has not changed since 20 November when the guidance was put into law. However, this is being relaxed for one day on 25 December so people can travel within Scotland to meet others in their bubble.

The government has no rules on how far you can travel on that day, but does say you should try to stay as local as possible.

From 00:01 on 26 December, all of mainland Scotland will be in level four and subject to the strictest travel restrictions.

Residents will not be permitted to leave their local authority area unless it is for an essential purpose.

These include work, healthcare, childcare or parental support, caring for a vulnerable person, animal care, or for outdoor informal exercise, which can start and finish at a point up to five miles from your council boundary. A full list of exemptions is available on the Scottish government website.

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