ENGLAND is currently under strict lockdown measures in a bid to reduce coronavirus infection rates before Christmas.
The restrictions, which came into force on November 5, are due to end on December 2 – leaving people wondering whether they will be relaxed in time for the festive season.
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Will lockdown be lifted for Christmas?
As it stands, the blanket-wide national measures will be lifted in time for Christmas as they are due to end on December 2.
The PM hopes the lockdown will end as planned so the country can revert to the three-tiered approach which was in place before November 5.
Boris Johnson could extend the lockdown but this would require a vote in parliament and it's highly likely that he would face a backbench rebellion among Tory MPs.
Matt Hancock hinted that it could be extended beyond December 2 but it's unknown how long any potential extension would be.
The Health Secretary said it was "too early to know" if the current Covid restrictions have worked – and would only say he "hoped" to be able to return to the tiers system after lockdown.
Mr Hancock told Radio 4 the next week (from November 16) will be crucial, as coronavirus cases should start to fall if the "lockdown is working".
Will there be restrictions in place over Christmas?
It's quite likely that restrictions will be in place in the run-up to Christmas – even if the lockdown ends as planned on December 2.
Stricter rules are likely to be introduced in December after Public Health England boss Dr Susan Hopkins warned on November 16 that Tier 1 restrictions were not working.
It means households face the prospect of being banned from mixing with others indoors in the weeks to come – which may put Christmas celebrations at risk.
Dr Hopkins said: "We see very little effect from Tier 1.
"When we look at what the Tiers may be in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine is available for everyone."
Dr Hopkins said Tier 2 – where people are banned from mixing indoors with different households – was only working in some areas, but Tier 3 was driving down Covid cases in the north-west.
Regions across England could be placed into on-off lockdowns for months to come.
The tough new measures are part of a new "pump the brakes" Covid strategy.
Will the 'rule of six' be lifted for Christmas?
The "rule of six" caps group meetings indoors and outdoors to six people.
Under the blanket-wide national restrictions, the rule of six doesn't apply as a stay-at-home order is in force.
It's not yet known whether the rule will return for the Christmas period.
Indoor meetings between different households was banned in areas under Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions prior to the lockdown on November 5.
Environment Secretary George Eustice warned on October 28 that the rule of six may still be in place in December – and police have been required to enforce it.
In October, Boris hinted that the "rule of six" would be suspended on Christmas, allowing families to spend it together.
The PM said he would do "everything we can" so grandparents don't get left out, or family lunches have to be split up by the coronavirus rule.
A source told The Sun on Sunday the rule of six could be lifted on Christmas Day to allow families to spend time together.
The insider said: “The PM is anxious to avoid being portrayed as Scrooge.
“He’s fully aware that millions of people are making big sacrifices to defeat this virus and is considering ways to allow them to experience the joy of Christmas for at last part of the holiday season.”
What are the current restrictions in the UK?
England was locked down on November 5 and restrictions will remain in place until December 2.
A stay-at-home order is in place and non-essential retail has been forced to close.
Bars and restaurants, as well as hairdressers have also been required to shut as part of the measures.
Working from home has also been advised, but schools, universities and colleges remain open.
Wales exited a 17-day "firebreak" lockdown on November 9.
Two households can form a bubble and will be able to meet in their own homes.
Up to 15 people can meet for organised activities indoors, with up to 30 outdoors.
All businesses required to close during the firebreak, such as bars, restaurants and non-essential retailers, can open up once again.
There are no travel restrictions within Wales but you can only leave the country for essential travel.
Local authorities in Scotland are under a five-tier Nando's-style lockdown system.
Tiers range from Level 0 – nearly normal – to Level 4, resembling a full lockdown.
No council area has been placed in Level 0.
Locals in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Stirling, Renfrewshire, West and East Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde could all be hit with stay-at-home measures.
Level 4 measures would mean non-essential retail would have to close, as will bars, restaurants and cafes.
Hairdressers and beauty salons will more than likely have to close under Level 4 measures.
Schools will stay open regardless of what restrictions apply.
Northern Ireland's short-term lockdown will now last until November 26.
As part of the measures, pubs, bars and restaurants must close – unless they provide takeaway services.
Support bubbles are limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households.
Overnight stays aren't permitted in someone else's home unless they are part of a bubble.
Weddings and funerals have been limited to 25 people, with no receptions and wakes allowed to take place.
From November 20, close contact services such as hairdressers and beauty salons can reopen by appointment.
Hospitality will reopen on a "graduated basis" – starting with unlicensed premises such as cafes and coffee shops. They must close at 8pm.
Can I leave or enter an area to visit people?
Under the current lockdown restrictions, you should stay at home unless it's for education, work, medical reasons, exercise or shopping.
Households are not permitted to mix with others indoors and outdoors.
Prior to the lockdown, residents living in Tier 3 regions were strongly discouraged from leaving their area.
Can I see my family and friends over Christmas?
If the rule of six is in place on Christmas Day, you will be able to meet as long as there is no more than six people in your group.
But, it's unlikely that any region in England will have the rule of six amid concerns that Tier 1 restrictions do not appear to be working.
It means households across face the prospect of being banned from mixing with others indoors in the weeks to come – which may put Christmas celebrations at risk.
Boris has yet to tell the nation whether they will be able to spend Christmas with their families.
He has said he is working on a plan to make sure all four nations of the country can come together under one plan.
One source told The Sun that the rule of six could be replaced with a higher number so extended families are able to come together on December 25.
Can I form a support bubble over Christmas?
Anyone who lives alone can form a support bubble with another household – of any size.
A support bubble is defined by the government as "a close support network between one household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size".
Any lone parent with kids under 18 is classed as single and is eligible to be in a support bubble.
And single parents with kids can form a bubble with another house too – so they can stay overnight, help with childcare or provide much needed support.
It means grandparents living on their own can see their grandchildren for example.
Can I go to the pub over Christmas?
Pubs are currently closed as part of the lockdown measures.
If England reverts back to the tiered approach, then pubs which do not serve meals will not be allowed to open in Tier 3 areas.
Pubs were required to close at 10pm for areas under Tier 2 measures.
Venues will only be able to offer table service and you must be following the rule of six – which means you can only get together up with five other people, including children.
Can I go out for dinner over Christmas?
Restaurants are shut as part of the lockdown, but if there is a return to the tiered system, then pubs which serve food could remain open under Tier 3.
Restaurants could remain open but were required to close by 10pm.
You would only be able to go for dinner with members of your household as indoor mixing between different households is banned.
And just like pubs, anyone sitting down for dinner or visiting a hospitality venue will have to fill out NHS track and trace forms so if there's an outbreak you can be contacted.
Can I have people over to my home after the pub?
Most likely not.
Household mixing is not permitted under the lockdown restrictions, and it's likely that it will not be allowed once England exits the shutdown on December 2.
It's unlikely that any region in England will be under Tier 1 restrictions post-lockdown.
Will I be able to go to sports matches over Christmas?
Most likely not.
Plans to return spectators to sports venues by October 1 have been sidelined for now.
Mr Gove said: "It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning.
"It wasn't going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans. We're looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme.
"But what we do want to do is to make sure is that as and when circumstances allow get more people back.
"It is the case that we need to be cautious at the moment. A mass reopening would not be appropriate at the moment. We do need to proceed with caution."
Can my wedding go ahead over Christmas?
At the moment, only "deathbed" weddings are allowed to take place, so it depends whether the lockdown restrictions are extended.
If your area is under Tier 3 measures, then yes, your wedding will be allowed to take place.
Up to 15 people could attend a ceremony held in regions under Tier 3, but receptions were banned.
It's not yet known whether the number of people who can attend will be less post-lockdown.
Can I go on holiday or visit a second home?
No, you cannot go on holiday in the UK or abroad, and you cannot visit a second home.
At the moment, you are only allowed to stay overnight away from your home for the following reasons:
- If you're unable to return to your main residence
- If you need accommodation while moving house
- If you need accommodation to attend a funeral or other event
- If you require accommodation for work/voluntary purposes
- If you are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
- If you are homeless, seeking asylum or a vulnerable person seeking refuge
- If you are an elite athlete or their support staff parent, if the athlete is under 18 and it's necessary for them to be outside of the home for training or competition.
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