Rules on pubs, nativities, grottos and carol singing at Christmas

As Christmas gets closer and lockdown ends this week and we head into our new coronavirus tiers, families may be wondering what exactly they can and can not do over the festive period.

The government has released another set of Christmas guidelines over the weekend, with advice on meeting with family and friends in the run up to December 25.

And there are different rules on meeting friends and family, depending on when you meet them.

Last week, the rules on forming and using a Christmas bubble were revealed, which means three households are able to mix in a private home from December 23 to 27. But you can only be in one Christmas bubble and once it’s formed you cannot change who is in it.

But what about the rest of December?

Liverpool is expected to be placed into Tier 2 when the second national lockdown end, after a mass testing programme has seen cases in the City Region fall, with nearby Lancashire in Tier 3.

So from December 2 to December 22, you must follow the rules of the tier you live in with some exceptions.

Visiting bars, pubs and restaurants

From December 2, the rules on who you can meet with in bars, pubs and restaurants will depend on your tier.

In the Liverpool City Region, you will be able to meet in a pub or bar IF it is operating as a restaurant and you can only have alcohol with a substantial meal.

But between December 23 and 27, you cannot meet your Christmas bubble in any other indoor setting, such as a pub, hotel, shop, theatre, or restaurant. You can only meet in a private home, in your garden or an outdoor public place.

Although there are exemptions for work purposes, you must not have a work Christmas lunch or party, where that is a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted by the rules in your tier.

Visiting a Santa’s grotto

Santa’s grottos will be allowed to open everywhere regardless of which tier you live in when lockdown ends.

The latest government guidance applies from December 2, and means families will be able to take their children to see Father Christmas even if you live in the highest tier 3.

However, there is a catch – the grotto has to be within a venue which is already permitted to open.

The guidance means grottos in shops, garden centres and department stores in all tiers will be allowed to open, because non-essential retail is permitted and reopens on December 2.

Father Christmas will not need to wear a mask in grottos but children will be barred from sitting on his knees under coronavirus rules.

Going to your child’s nativity

Nativity plays will have to be performed within existing school bubbles, with no mixing across groups. Audiences in tier 1 and tier 2 areas will be subject to restrictions as well – like social distancing but in tier 3, audiences are not permitted.

In these areas, schools are advised to use alternative methods such as live-streaming and recording performance.

Going to a carol service

Carol services can take place, as long as those attending adhere to the advice on singing safely, which has been put together with the help of Public Health England.

Its advice includes singing in well-ventilated areas and keeping a distance from each other. Door-to-door carol singing is allowed too, but in groups of a maximum of six.

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Visiting churches and other places of worship

It doesn’t matter which tier you are in from December 2, you can attend your place of worship, however the rules on who you can meet with whilst at places of worship will depend on your tier.

In Tier 2 and 3, you must not socialise with people from outside of your household or support bubble while you are indoors there.

Between December 23 and 27, you may also attend a place of worship with members of your Christmas bubble. This applies in all tiers.

Visiting shops and Christmas markets

From December 2, the rules on who you can meet with in shops will depend on your tier. The rules might be different for indoor shops and open-air shops, such as Christmas markets or Christmas tree markets.

Between December 23 and 27, the rules on who you can meet in shops will not change. This includes Boxing Day sales.

Liverpool Echo – What’s On