Covid Christmas travel: Can you leave Wales for England to form a three-house bubble?

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty held a news conference today addressing plans around Christmas. Christmas will not be cancelled but caution has been advised. Wales has reduced the Christmas bubble household limit to just two households, but can Welsh people visit England if they intend to be part of three-household bubbles?

The Government met on Wednesday to undertake the first official review of the tiers across England.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will reveal the results of this review on Thursday, the Prime Minister today confirmed.

The Welsh Government today announced it would tighten restrictions in the run-up to Christmas.

The country will move to its highest tier of restrictions, which is level four and is equivalent to a lockdown.

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The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announced only two households will be permitted to form exclusive Christmas bubbles during the five-day lifting of restrictions.

All non-essential retail, leisure and fitness businesses in the country must also shut at close of trading on Christmas Eve.

All hospitality premises will close from 6pm on Christmas Day.

The Welsh Government will put new guidance into effect only allowing two households to mix as part of a “Christmas bubble” during the five-day relaxation period.

Mr Drakeford said the common arrangements for Christmas will be reduced in Wales to protect people.

He said: “A smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas.

“The fewer people we mix within our homes, the less chance we have of catching or spreading the virus.

“None of us wants to be ill this Christmas. And we don’t want to give coronavirus to our close friends or family.”

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Last month the four devolved nations of the UK agreed rules for the upcoming festive period.

The rules for Christmas agreed by the four administrations are:

  • Travel restrictions across the four administrations and between tiers will be lifted to provide a window for households to come together between December 23 to 27.
  • Up to three households can form an exclusive “bubble” to meet at home during this period. When a bubble is formed it is fixed, and must not be changed or extended further at any point.
  • Each Christmas bubble can meet at home, at a place of worship or an outdoor public place. But existing, more restrictive rules on hospitality and meeting in other venues will be maintained throughout this period.

Can Welsh people visit England if it breaks the two-household rule?

According to the Welsh Government website, people are permitted to travel to anywhere else in the UK during the relaxed Christmas period.

Between December 23 and 27, you are permitted to travel anywhere in the UK to form your Christmas bubble.

The website reads: “If you are travelling away from home, you should meet your Christmas bubble and return home within the designated window (December 23 to 27).

“Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may also travel on December 22 and 28, but cannot meet up with the bubble outside the December 23 to 27 window.”

The website adds: “You do not have to form a Christmas bubble.

“You should consider ways to celebrate Christmas in other ways, such as the use of technology and meeting outdoors, without bringing households together or travelling between different parts of the country.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today urged people to avoid contact with others ahead of the Christmas period to reduce the risk of spreading the virus during the festive season.

Speaking from Downing Street, he said: “If you’re visiting others over Christmas, we’re asking you in the five days beforehand, as early as this Friday, to reduce the number of people you’re in contact with to the lowest possible because obviously, this virus spreads through human contact.”

Mr Johnson further urged people to avoid travelling from areas with a high coronavirus infection rate to those with a lower prevalence of the virus.

He repeated Mr Drakeford’s sentiment about smaller Christmas celebrations being safer.

Tighter rules in Wales after December 28 will come into effect meaning travel out of your area from that time will be restricted.

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