Who is in YOUR Christmas bubble? Three-household limit is set to stir up family feuds

The three-household limit on bubbles over the Christmas period is already causing Britons a headache as they work out who they want to visit.

Social media users posted a series of hilarious memes as some even drew diagrams in an attempt to work out who to stay with over the five-day period.

Boris Johnson warned families they must make a ‘personal judgement’ about the risks of coronavirus to vulnerable loved ones when forming a Christmas bubble.

The Prime Minister urged the public to ‘think carefully’ over the festive period after it was confirmed that three households will be able to mix from December 23 to 27.

The UK Government and devolved administrations have agreed to relax social distancing rules, allowing friends and family to hug for the first time in months.

But a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned the planned easing of rules could lead to a third wave of the pandemic. 

Here are some of the which have been posted on Twitter in the past 15 hours:

What are the 12 rules of Christmas for Britons this year?


A maximum of three households can form a temporary ‘Christmas Bubble’ to celebrate the festive period together, leaving large families with agonising choices. Social distancing rules can be dropped within the group. The Christmas bubbles are ‘exclusive’ – people cannot chop and change between them – although they can meet other households outside of their ‘bubble’ outdoors.


The temporary relaxation of Covid restrictions will last from December 23 to December 27 inclusive after which time normal rules will apply. People travelling to or from Northern Ireland to form a bubble can travel on December 22 and December 28, but should only stay with their bubbles for the five allotted days.


Families in a Christmas Bubble can socialise indoors, stay at each other’s homes and drop social distancing rules – allowing them to hug. They can also mix together outside, such as going for a walk, and can attend church and other religious services together. They can also rent a holiday cottage together.


Rules for hospitality will not be relaxed. This means that members of a Christmas Bubbles will not all be able to go to the pub together or go out for a meal unless it is permitted by the local Covid tier rules in place at the time. This means anyone in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 area will not be able to mix with other households in a pub – even if they are all in one bubble.


People will be allowed to travel across the UK to form Christmas Bubbles. This includes travelling in and out of Tier Three and crossing national boundaries. Government guidance urges people to plan ahead for what is likely to be an exceptionally busy period on roads and rail.


There is no upper limit on the number of people in a Christmas Bubble, provided members come from no more than three households.


Children under 18 whose parents have separated will be allowed to travel between their parent’s Christmas Bubbles, potentially meaning they could come into contact with as many as six different households during the five day period.


In England, individual households can split to form separate Christmas Bubbles for the period. For example, a group of four individuals sharing a house can all go their separate ways to spend time with their families.


People already in so-called ‘support bubbles’ will count as one household. For example, if a mother and adult daughter have formed a support bubble they will be able to form a wider Christmas Bubble with two other households.


Enforcement is expected to be light touch. Ministers will urge people to obey the rules and ‘act responsibly’. Police will not be asked to take a hard line but will retain the power to intervene with fines in flagrant cases, such as people throwing big house parties or breaching rules banning gatherings of more than 30 people.


Care home residents will not be allowed to return to their families unless they are aged under 65 and have the permission of the home. Those younger residents who are allowed to leave will have to be tested for Covid before they return.


University and college students returning home will count as being in the same household as their parents. For example, a couple with three children at university could have all their children home for the festivities and still form a Christmas Bubble with two other households.

What do we know about the Christmas bubble rules? 

Plans to allow people to form a temporary bubble over the festive season will be welcome news to families across the country.

But how much do we know about what is being proposed?

Here are some key questions based on information released by the Cabinet Office and relating to England.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are yet to publish their full guidance, which could contain variations in approaches.

– What is a Christmas bubble and when can I join one?

People will be allowed to form an exclusive Christmas bubble made up of people from no more than three households between December 23 and 27.

This rule applies across the whole of the UK.

Christmas bubbles can only meet in private homes and gardens, places of worship and public outdoor spaces.

– Can I be in more than one Christmas bubble?

No. Christmas bubbles will be fixed for the period they are permitted.

You are also not allowed to change your Christmas bubble once it is formed.

– Is there a limit to how many people can be in a Christmas bubble?

The Cabinet Office guidance only stipulates that the bubble should not include people from more than three households.

However, it highlights that the more people someone sees, the more likely they are to catch or spread Covid-19, and asks the public to be mindful of risks before agreeing to form a bubble.

The Scottish Government said people should keep the numbers within a bubble as low as possible and minimise the length of contact between different households in the bubble.

– Will we have to social distance within Christmas bubbles?

Social distancing will not be necessary in bubbles, but people will be advised to exercise restraint and judgment if they plan to mix with vulnerable friends or family.

It means friends and family will have the chance to hug for the first time in months.

– What happens if I’m self-isolating?

If you have Covid symptoms or are required to self-isolate then you must not join a Christmas bubble.

If someone in a Christmas bubble tests positive for coronavirus or develops symptoms between December 23 and 27, or up to 48 hours after the bubble last met, then all bubble members must self-isolate.

– Can I be in a different Christmas bubble from people I normally live with?

Cabinet Office guidance says you can choose to form a different Christmas bubble from the people you live with normally.

To prevent virus transmission within your normal household and between bubbles, people should try to stay with another member of their Christmas bubble between December 23 and 27 where possible.

Extra precautions such as cleaning surfaces and door handles and letting in fresh air after someone has visited your household are also advised.

However, the Scottish Government has said that ‘different people in a household should not pick their own bubble’.

– Can I still meet people outside of my Christmas bubble?

You will be able to meet people not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are staying in.

The tier system of restrictions applies to England, with rules in other parts of the UK varying.

– Can I stay overnight with my Christmas bubble?

Yes. If someone is in your Christmas bubble, you can visit each other’s homes and stay overnight, including in private rented accommodation.

– Can I travel through different areas and across borders to join a Christmas bubble?

Yes. You are allowed to travel between England’s tiers and the four nations of the UK to meet your Christmas bubble.

– When am I allowed to travel to and from my Christmas bubble?

You should only travel to meet your bubble and return home between December 23 and 27.

For those heading to or from Northern Ireland, they may travel on December 22 and 28 December, but should only meet their Christmas bubble between December 23 and 27.

Travel outside these periods is only allowed in exceptional circumstances, for example if your are required to self-isolate.

People are advised to avoid unnecessary stops on their journey and not to share a car with people not in their household.

If crossing borders, travellers should read the local coronavirus guidance as different rules may apply.

– Does my support bubble count as one household still?

According to the Cabinet Office, existing support bubbles will count as one household contributing to the three household Christmas bubble limit.

A support bubble in England is defined as a support network between a single adult household, or a one adult household with one or more people aged under 18 on June 12, and one other household of any size.

Rules on household bubbles are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with full Christmas guidance still pending from those nations.

– Can childcare bubbles continue?

In England, a childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to children aged 13 or under.

Between December 23 and 27 you can continue to use a childcare bubble but ‘only if reasonably necessary’ and ‘where there are no reasonable alternatives’, Cabinet Office guidance states.

If meeting socially during this period, the two households should form a Christmas bubble, with one further household permitted to join the grouping.

Again, guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may differ.

– What happens to children whose parents are separated?

Children who are aged under 18 can be part of both their parents’ Christmas bubbles if the adults do not live together and separate groupings are formed.

Nobody else is allowed to be in two bubbles.

– Can care home residents join Christmas bubbles?

In England, visits outside of care homes should only be considered for residents ‘of working age’.

A care home resident that is allowed to leave, subject to a home’s agreement and individual risk assessments, may form a bubble with one other household only and should not form a three-household Christmas bubble at any point.

If a care home resident does join a household for Christmas they should maintain social distance and take steps to minimise risks.

– Can students returning from university join Christmas bubbles?

Students heading home for the holidays will be considered part of the household they return to.

– Can I form a Christmas bubble if I am clinically extremely vulnerable?

Yes, but people are warned this involves greater risks.

If someone decides to join a bubble they should take extra precautions, while others within the group should be extra vigilant in the days before getting together.

– Can my bubble have Christmas dinner together at the pub?

No. Under the rules Christmas bubbles cannot meet up at indoor settings such as pubs, hotels, retail businesses, theatres or restaurants.

In England, rules on who you can and cannot meet will still depend on which tier of restrictions a venue is in.

– Should I follow the rules of the tier I travel to or the tier I’ve come from when forming my Christmas bubble?

In England, if travelling to join your bubble you should follow the tier rules of your destination.

In Scotland, you must stay with your bubble where they are hosting you and you should follow the travel advice for the level you are in.

For example, people being hosted in a level 3 area cannot go on an outing to a level 2 area.

– Can I stay in a hotel during Christmas?

In England, you can stay in a hotel during the Christmas period, including in a tier 3 area, but only on your own or with members of your household.

– How will the Christmas rules be enforced?

No specific details have been released over how authorities might enforce the newly announced rules during the festive period.

– Will we face tougher restrictions in January to make up for this?

We do not yet know. It has been speculated that a further circuit-breaker might be needed in January or February if transmission rates rise during Christmas.

The Prime Minister has urged families to still be ‘jolly careful’, warning against ‘a big blowout Christmas’ that could risk another lockdown in January.

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