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Covid restrictions will be relaxed in the UK during Christmas, the Prime Minister has confirmed.
Despite fears rules would be tightened, with experts warning of a spike in cases in January, Boris Johnson says he plans to continue with the relaxation.
This means people will be able to form temporary 'bubbles' during the festive period.
In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, this will amount to three households over five days between 23-27 December.
However, in Wales, the number of households that can mix has dropped from three to two.
Meanwhile, the Scottish government has recommended households only mix on Christmas day, rather than across the five-day period, with no overnight stays.
Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Johnson said: "As of today, just this morning, there is unanimous agreement across all the UK government and devolved administrations that we should proceed in principle with the existing regulations because we don't want to criminalise people's long-made plans.
"We do think it's vital that people exercise a high degree of personal responsibility, especially when they come into contact with elderly people."
Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "Here in Wales, the position from @WelshGovernment is that only two households should come together to form an exclusive Christmas bubble during the five-day period."
From 28 December, Wales will also return to a national lockdown, with all 'close-contact services' forced to shut, while all pubs and restaurants will have to close at 6pm on Christmas Day.
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented that the governments across the four nations do 'not intend to take away the flexibility' over the Christmas period, adding: "That, in my view, wouldn't be fair at this stage and wouldn't be realistic either, and may risk undermining, rather than strengthening, compliance with the overall Covid guidance."
She said the Scottish Government would strengthen its guidance to people on 'whether and how they make use of the flexibility'.
This comes after scientists warned that with case rates rising in parts of the country, and London having to be placed into Tier Three earlier this week, the planned relaxation of restrictions could have a hugely negative impact.
Professor Linda Bauld, chair of public health in The Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh, said: "I think people have to think very carefully whether they can see loved ones outside, or do it in a very modest way.
"I'm also concerned about the travel, people going from high to low-prevalence areas."
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Prof Bauld added: "I think [the looser rules] are going to have consequences. I completely understand why governments are doing that. Behaviourally people are fed up.
"If you're meeting people indoors from other households, there's poor ventilation, maybe older family members are in those bubbles, unfortunately because the virus hasn't been eliminated... I think that means the Christmas period is a risk.
"From a public health perspective, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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