On Tuesday, leaders of the four UK nations have come to an agreement to allow up to three household bubbles to meet up for a five-day Christmas holiday gathering. To enable people to visit families in other parts of the UK, travel restrictions and measures across England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland will be lifted. The five-day holiday period runs from December 23rd till the 27th.

Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel between the 22 and the 28th of December, but otherwise travel to and from family bubbles should be done between the 23rd and 27th, the BBC reported.

People will not be allowed to get together with others from more than two other fixed household bubbles. Once a fixed bubble of three households has been established, this must not be altered or extended. The agreement also allows the bubbles to stay overnight at each other's homes but may not visit public places such as retail shops, restaurants or pubs.

Although the leaders of the four nations say that 2020 will not be a normal Christmas, people will be able to mix in homes, places of worship as well as outdoor spaces. However, they urge everyone to think carefully about their activities to keep the risk of transmission low while family and friends gather in a limited and cautious way.

In a joint statement, the four nation leaders said:

"Even where it is within the rules, meeting with friends and family over Christmas will be a personal judgement for individuals to take, mindful of the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable."

In a video message from Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the agreement as a "special, time-limited dispensation."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also threw in reminders for Christmas travellers to plan their journeys carefully and prepare for restrictions on passenger numbers to effectively allow for social distancing.

Despite the reassuring precautionary measures of the agreement, some scientists have warned that the relaxation of restrictions over the festive period could spark another wave of infections and lead to further deaths.

As it is, the government has recorded another 608 deaths in the UK within a period of 28 days after a positive Covid test.

Festive cheer lacking for London shoppers
The Christmas lights illuminate the main shopping Oxford Street in central London on November 2, 2020. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday defended his belated decision to impose a second coronavirus lockdown as critics claimed he could have saved "thousands" of lives by acting sooner. Photo: AFP / Ben STANSALL