Brits should avoid unnecessary socialising in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Government is advising.
It's hoped this will minimise the chances of a dreaded third wave of coronavirus infections in the New Year.
On Tuesday it was announced that lockdown laws against household mixing will be relaxed across the UK for five days over Christmas.
Up to three separate households will be allowed to mingle indoors together between December 23 and 27 as part of the "Christmas bubbles" scheme.
While the news was met with joy by many who haven't seen their relatives all year, health experts have warned that such a period of lax social distancing will inevitably result in a spike in cases in January.
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In an effort to reduce this risk, people planning to celebrate the festive season in their temporary bubbles are being encouraged to keep to themselves for two weeks beforehand.
"You should reduce unnecessary contact with people you do not live with as much as possible in the two weeks before you form your Christmas bubble," the official UK Government website states.
"Children should continue to go to school.
"You should work from home if you can, but you should avoid unnecessary social interaction. Any increase in contact with other people increases the risk you will catch or spread coronavirus."
There will not be an official ban on socialising before December 23, but Brits are encouraged to heed the advice in order to make Christmas as safe as possible.
The bubble scheme came about after an emergency COBRA meeting between the UK Government and the devolved administrations on Tuesday.
All four chief medical officers worked on the Christmas plan, and have said it strikes the right balance between caution and much-needed emotional relief for lonely Brits.
However public health experts have warned that each day of loosened restrictions will have to be made up for with an extra five days of tough measures in order to avoid a spike in cases.
Here's how the Christmas bubble system will work:
- There is no limit on the number of people allowed in a bubble as long as they don't come from more than three different households.
- The bubbles will need to be exclusive and cannot change to allow new members within the five-day-period.
- A previously established "support bubble" will count as a single household in the formation of a Christmas bubble.
- Members of a Christmas bubble can meet up in homes, public spaces or places of worship. However they will not be able to meet in their bubbles in pubs or restaurants.
- Members of a Christmas bubble living in different regions of the UK and thus different "tiers" will be allowed to travel between them during this time.
- People will also be able to travel to and from Northern Ireland for an extra day either side of that period, to allow for the extra travel time.
- They can also meet up with non-members of their bubble, but only outside and in accordance with local laws.
- Children whose parents are separated or do not live together will be allowed to move between two different Christmas bubbles.
- In England, a group of housemates living together would all be allowed to return home to their separate families for Christmas.
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