Covid-19 won’t become the Grinch that steals Christmas from Britons, as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have agreed to relax, for the festive season, the restrictions aimed at slowing the second wave of the pandemic.

Authorities in each of the devolved states had introduced their own curbs to tackle the spread of the virus, which has already infected around 1.5 million and killed more than 55,800 people across the UK. However, following talks between the leaders of the four UK states on Tuesday, they jointly decided to settle on a common approach for the upcoming festive period.

The restrictions will be eased to allow three households to meet under the same roof for a five-day period, from December 23 until December 27. However, such a gathering is only allowed at the home, not at hospitality or entertainment venues.

The leaders agreed to what senior UK cabinet minister Michael Gove described as a “Christmas bubble” because “people want to be with their loved-ones and those close to them for what is the most important holiday of the year.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pointed out that the changes would be “temporary” and “limited,” adding that she would “continue to ask people to err on the side of caution.”

England is currently under a month-long national lockdown, which saw non-essential businesses close down and limited the time people could spend outside. After it expires next week, different areas of the country will face varying restrictions based on the local Covid-19 situation.

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