During the Christmas period (23 to 27 December) different rules on social contact will apply.
This guidance is for people who are fit and well. There is additional advice for:
You can also read alternative formats of this guidance.
Hands. Face. Space
Remember, Hands. Face. Space:
- hands: wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds
- face: wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- space: stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)
When meeting people you do not live with, it is important to do so outdoors where possible, or to make sure that any indoor venue has good ventilation (for example by opening windows so that fresh air can enter).
Meeting family and friends
You must not meet socially indoors with anybody you do not:
Unless a legal exemption applies.
Indoors means any indoor setting, including:
- private homes
- other indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants
You must not meet socially (in a private garden or at most outdoor public venues), with anybody you do not:
Unless a legal exemption applies.
However, you can see friends and family you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) in some outdoor public places, in a group of up to 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age.
These outdoor public places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- the grounds of a heritage site
- outdoor sports courts and facilities
You can continue to meet in a group larger than 6 if you are all from the same household or support bubble, or another legal exemption applies.
Support and childcare bubbles
- are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under 18 year old living alone
- live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household
- live with child under 1, or who was under 1 on 2 December 2020
- live with a child under 5, or who was under 5 on 2 December 2020, with a disability
Meeting in larger groups
There are exceptions where people can continue to gather indoors or in private gardens, or in groups larger than 6, in outdoor public places:
- as part of a single household or support bubble
- in a childcare bubble (for the purposes of childcare only)
- for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other peoples homes (read guidance on working safely in other peoples homes)
- for registered childcare, education or training meaning education related to a formal curriculum or training that relates to work or obtaining work
- for supervised activities provided for children and those who were under 18 on 31 August 2020, including wraparound care (before and after-school childcare), childrens groups, activities for under-18s, and childrens playgroups
- for parent and toddler groups up to a maximum of 15 people. Under-5s do not count towards this limit. These cannot take place in private dwellings.
- for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
- to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
- for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
- support groups of up to 15 participants formally organised groups to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support, where it is necessary for these to take place in person. These cannot take place in private dwellings. Under-5s do not count towards the 15 person limit for support groups
- for birth partners
- to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
- to see someone who is dying
- to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
- for gatherings within criminal justice accomodation or immigration detention centres
- to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer
- for a wedding or equivalent ceremony where the organiser has carried out a risk assessment and taken all reasonable measures. Receptions are not permitted to limit the risk of transmission of the virus. These cannot take place in private dwellings, except for weddings that take place in exceptional circumstances where one of the parties is seriously ill and not expected to recover.
- for funerals up to a maximum of 30 people and for commemorative events, such as wakes or stonesettings up to 15 people. These cannot take place in private dwellings
- to visit someone at home who is dying, or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment
- for elite sportspeople (and their support teams if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) to compete and train
- for organised outdoor sport and physical activity and organised sports for disabled people
- to facilitate a house move
Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.
If you break the rules
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a fixed penalty notice of 200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of 6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of 10,000.
Keeping you and your friends and family safe
When meeting friends and family you should also:
Protecting people more at risk from coron