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Christmas bubble rules: How to entertain this festive season and enjoy the celebrations safely

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With current coronavirus restrictions being relaxed for the festive period, how can those entertaining loved ones do so more safely in a Christmas bubble?

The Scottish Government recently announced it is to relax current Covid-19 rules for five days this festive season. And although some will choose to stick to the current restrictions in place, others will looking to spend time with family.

Taking place from December 23 to December 27 inclusively, the public will be allowed to travel within the UK to spend Christmas with their loved ones in bubbles of up to eight people from three households (including your own). Children under 12 from these households aren’t counted and do not need to maintain a physical distance from others according to the Scottish Government.

However, you can also only be in one Christmas bubble with two other households so be mindful of this when “bubbling” up.

If you want to see family this Christmas it is best to create your own Christmas bubble of three households with a maximum of eight people. Children 12 and under are exempt and not counted in the bubble.

While the Scottish Government has allowed this relaxing of rules to take place, it is not encouraging people to meet up with other households and says the changes were announced to help those living in isolation and struggling with loneliness which can be particularly difficult over the Christmas period.

The Scottish Government website outlines that the safest way to spend Christmas is by staying within your own household, in your own home, in your local area. However for those setting up a bubble during those five days, we have some advice on how to serve up Christmas as safely as possible.

How many people can I have around for Christmas dinner?

Christmas bubbles can include a maximum of eight people across three different households. Children under 12 aren’t counted in this number.

Order your food online in advance.

With shops always busier in the lead up to Christmas it is advised to restrict the number of times you are visiting your local supermarket and other retail premises to avoid being exposed to other people.

Try doing all of your food and drink shop online, or if you need to go to the shop, avoid those notoriously busy peak times.

You should go to the shop on your own and try and use click and collect or delivery services when possible.

One individual should take responsibility in plating up everyone’s food to avoid more people touching surfaces and plates. Consider wearing gloves when doing so, too.

How should I serve Christmas dinner?

While the majority may think a buffet style is the best option, one individual should take responsibility for plating up everyone’s Christmas dinner. By keeping it to a minimum of one person, there are less touch points and cause for contamination. The person dishing up the food should also wear gloves where possible and a mask, too.

One household should also take responsibility for:

All of the cooking and food preparation to ensure as few people have been involved in the food-making process as possible.

The fewer people handling things the better.

If you do decide to serve up buffet style, ensure one household goes up at a time, and that everyone is wearing gloves or sanitising their hands and utensils as they go.

How can I keep my guests safe?

Although it may be cold outside, it is important to keep your home ventilated with as much fresh air as possible during and even after your bubble visits.

Sticking to the two-metre distance rule will also help keep space between you and the others in your bubble.

Washing your hands frequently and using plenty of hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes to clean touch points like door handles and surfaces will ensure you are keeping your guests and surfaces as sanitised as possible.

You should also avoid sharing cutlery or crockery if possible and should put everything once used in the dishwasher or in the sink with hot soapy water.

Shorter visits will also help reduce the amount of time households are exposed to one another, so it is important to keep visits brief where possible.

You could also choose to wear masks when travelling around the home and only take them off when seated – similar to how you would operate in a hospitality environment.

Keeping two metres apart and wearing face masks will help protect those visiting in your Christmas bubble.

Can I go to a restaurant with the same amount of people during the festive break?

While you can still enjoy hospitality, you must abide by the rules in place for hospitality at that time. Currently the rules allow for two households of up to six people to visit them, so you cannot visit with your Christmas bubble of three households up to eight people.

Socialising and opening hours for pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes are as per the local authority protection levels that the venue is situated in.

Can we rent self-catered accommodation for the occasion?

Yes, however it is not recommended.

Some individuals will not have a big enough home to accommodate eight people in a Christmas bubble, plus additional children, however while the law therefore lets a bubble meet in self-catered accommodation (or second home) for a Christmas gathering, this should only be done so in the local authority area in which you or a member of your bubble lives.

You are not allowed to gather in self-catering in an area you or any other members of your bubble do not live.

Those operating self-catering accommodation are advised to ensure guests travelling and staying are from their local authority.

If you are staying with another household you should not have more than one household (or extended household) staying in each bedroom.

The bubble should not meet or stay in hotel or B&B accommodation during the Christmas period. However, individual members or an individual household which is part of a bubble may use hotel or B & B accommodation nearby.

Can I see other people over the festive break?

Your Christmas bubble are the only individuals you are allowed to visit indoors at home.

If you want to meet up with other friends and family you can only do so by meeting up outside, staying two metres apart or in a hospitality setting.

Seeing friends virtually is the safest way to catch up this festive break.

What to remember:

  • If anyone in the bubble contracts Covid-19, all members of the bubble will be required to isolate for 14 days.
  • If you have Covid-19 symptoms you should isolate and book in for a test. Your whole household and bubble should also do the same.

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