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Tiers and Christmas Bubbles

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

The information in this post has been superceded on 4 January 2021 with a national lockdown and has only been kept on the site for historical value.

With different parts of the UK currently under different COVID-19 restrictions, and with England in a four tier system, as well as the UK wide Christmas easing of some restrictions, the whole issue of what you can and cannot do is baffling even for those who have followed it closely.

So here is a summary of where we are at present. As we are an England based business we are focussing on England, with a brief summary for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

Note that details can change at short notice, so always check with the relevant devolved government website or Further information can also be found at

In England (correct as of 23 December 2020):

England is split into a localised four tier system. Which area is in which tier is reviewed every 14 days, or more frequently if there is a sudden surge in cases in an area. The current list of which area is in which Tier can be found at

The fourth highest tier was added and into force on 20 December 2020. Additional areas will enter Tier 4, and some other areas will change tier from 12.01am on 26 December 2020.

Post code search for what tier you are in:

For those in Tier 1 (Medium risk):


For those in Tier 2 (High risk):

For those in Tier 3: (Very High risk):

For Tier 4:

  • Residents being asked to stay at home - although those who have to travel for education or work may continue to do so

  • Social mixing will be restricted to meeting one other person from outside your household or support bubble in an open public space

  • All non-essential retail will have to close, along with hairdressers, nail bars, and indoor entertainment venues

  • Gyms and indoor swimming pools must close but outdoor pools, sports courts and golf courses can stay open

  • Support bubbles remain unaffected, as do the exemptions for separated parents and their children

  • No-one in tier four will be allowed to join Christmas Day bubbles in tiers one to three

  • People in tier four areas should not travel abroad, except in limited circumstances (including work and education)

  • Communal religious worship will still be allowed

  • Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are not allowed except in exceptional circumstances

The measures will be formally reviewed on 30 December.

In Wales (correct as of 19 December 2020)

Current rules for Wales can be found at Note that people from other home nations should not travel to Wales except in a few limited circumstances such as for work. Note that people travelling to some areas of England from Wales must self isolate for 10 days.

In Scotland (correct as of 19 December 2020):

Scotland is currently divided into local protection levels. Full details on these can be found at Note that people from other home nations should not travel to Scotland except in a few limited circumstances such as for work.

In Northern Ireland (correct as of 19 December 2020):

Northern Ireland rules can be found at Note that if you travel to Northern Ireland from England, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland you must self isolate for 10 days.

The BBC also has a useful guide to changes made on 19 December 2020 for the four main home nations at

On the Isle of Man (correct as of 14 December 2020):

The Isle of Man is currently operating with very few restrictions, as cases are very low. However, if you travel to the Isle you have to self isolate for 14 days at your own cost immediately on arrival. Failure to do so can lead to a prison sentence. Full details at The Isle of Man is not partaking in the UK Government Christmas COVID measures.

On the Isle of Jersey (correct as of 14 December 2020):

Jersey has recently published its own Winter Plan for COVID-19 and has its own alert app. A month long lockdown is in place for most of December until 4 January. Full details can be found at

Jersey is not partaking in the UK Government Christmas COVID measures.

In the States of Guernsey (correct as of 25 November 2020):

On Guernsey, Alderney and Sark, COVID-19 cases are low, and details on the rules can be found at The States of Guernsey is not partaking in the UK Government Christmas COVID measures.

Christmas 2020: (majorly updated 19 December 2020, minor changes 20 December)

In England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Christmas Day only):

On the dates mentioned only,

  • you can form an exclusive ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households (two in Wales). The message from all Governments however is minimise meet ups. The message is "a smaller Christmas is a safer Christmas".

  • In England, in Tier 4 areas, residents will only be allowed to celebrate Christmas with members of their own household and support bubbles. They will not be allowed to travel to other tiers to see family and friends. In areas of England in tiers one, two and three Christmas bubbles will no longer be across five days. Instead, three households coming together will now only be allowed on Christmas Day. Full details can be found at

  • In Scotland, see Scotland's toughest level four rules will come into effect across mainland Scotland from 26 December.

  • In Wales see Wales will go into a level four lockdown on 20 December where tighter restrictions for household mixing, staying at home, holiday accommodation and travel will apply, with all but essential shops closed, and people being told to "stay home" to save lives. Gyms and beauty salons and non-essential shops will have to close at the end of trading today, while bars and restaurants will only be able to open for takeaways, and people will only be allowed to travel for "essential reasons". During the level four lockdown period people will not be allowed to mix with anyone they do not live with, with only single person households allowed to form an exclusive support bubble with one other household.

  • In Northern Ireland, see The Christmas Day easing in Northern Ireland is flexible for those who have to work on 25 December 2020 only, to allow another date to be used between 23 and 27 December. A six week lockdown will start on Boxing Day. All non-essential shops, restaurants and pubs will close.

We reiterate that bubbles MUST NOT exceed the maximum three exclusive households (two in Wales, not at all in Tier 4 England). Don't daisy chain your household bubbles, as this will allow infection to spread:


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