Families will be allowed to get together and form “bubbles” over Christmas for a limited number of days, the government has suggested.
The Cabinet Office said the UK government – alongside the devolved administrations – endorsed a shared objective of introducing a temporary amnesty from household mixing restrictions to allow “limited additional bubbling”.
The Whitehall department added: “Welcoming the good progress made by all administrations over the past few days to design a single set of arrangements that can apply across the UK, ministers reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real.
“As such, ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days, but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact.
“In respect of Northern Ireland, ministers also recognised that people will want to see family and friends across the island of Ireland, and this is the subject of discussions with the Irish government.
“Work is continuing to finalise the arrangements, including relating to travel. The UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive hope to conclude this work this week, subject to agreement by each administration.”
It comes after Boris Johnson met virtually with the cabinet on Sunday to sign off the “Covid winter plan”, which will see a return to a tougher version of regional tiered measures when England’s lockdown ends on 2 December.