THE Scottish Government has published its public health guidelines for the festive period.

It was announced earlier this week that from December 23-27 there will be a limited relaxation of the Covid-19 rules to allow people to travel within the UK to spend Christmas together, in bubbles of up to three households.

The full details of the relaxed measures have now been set out.

This is everything you need to know.

Why have the rules changed?

The Scottish Government insists the restrictions are not being eased to encourage inter-household mixing, but to counter isolation and loneliness, which can hit people particularly hard over the Christmas period.

Nicola Sturgeon says her “default advice” remains: “If you can get through this Christmas staying in your own home within your own household, please do so.”

How many people can be included in a bubble?

The guidelines state that you should keep any bubble to a maximum of eight people. Children under the age of 12 do not count towards the total number of people in the bubble. Children under 12 do not need to maintain physical distance from others.

You should not change the members in your bubble once it has been formed.

What are the rules for bubbles?

If anyone in the bubble contracts Covid-19, all members of the bubble will be required to isolate for 14 days.

The Government says people should remain 2m away from those outside of their household as much as possible. Bubbles can only gather in a private home (to meet or stay the night), outdoors or at a place of worship.

An extended household can meet in line with the normal rules as just one household.

Where parents do not live in the same household, children can move between their parents’ homes in different bubbles, and this includes both supervised and unsupervised visitation.

The Government says people within a bubble should NOT go to the shops together. “Where possible you should shop on your own, or only with children or those who need support, shop local, and use Click and Collect or Delivery services,” the advice reads.

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Those who are part of a bubble should not stay in tourist accommodation. Only those not part of a bubble should plan on staying in tourist accommodation and should follow the tourist accommodation, socialising and travel rules in the local authority they are staying in.

Those who have formed a bubble should only socialise in a hospitality, leisure or entertainment venue in your own household (or extended household) for the duration of the festive period.

Bubbles are permitted to gather in a place of worship during the Christmas period, though places of worship are required to take special health measures.

Should you form a bubble?

If you are isolating as a close contact, or if you have had a positive test and have not completed your isolation period, you should not mix with others outside your immediate household. If you have Covid symptoms you should isolate and ask for a test.

If your household or the people you would meet in a bubble consists of elderly people or people who are clinically vulnerable, the Government says it is particularly important that you consider the risks, and you may wish to avoid mixing to reduce the risk of passing on the virus – particularly if your bubble would mean younger people, particularly young adults, mixing with older people.

What if you're shielding?

The advice states: “If you or someone in your family have been informed that you are at highest clinical risk from Covid-19 you should take time to think about what being a bubble means for you. Being part of a bubble would involve greater risks for you as you would be increasing the number of people you have contact with. It is important that you do not feel pressured to celebrate the festive season in an environment that makes you anxious.”

What about students or those in a shared flat?

Students who have returned home at the end of term form part of the household they have returned to. All students are being offered testing before returning home.

People (other than students) who live in a shared flat or house are considered a household and are “strongly advised” not to split up and enter separate bubbles over the festive period. If you do join different bubbles you should isolate from your flatmates both before and after joining your bubble for around a week.

Travel restrictions

Travel restrictions will be relaxed from 23 – 27 December to allow people to travel between local authority areas and the four nations of the UK to join their bubble.

Irvine Times:

If you travel to form a bubble, once you arrive you must follow the rules about travel that apply in that local authority area. Upon forming a bubble in a Level 3 or 4 area in Scotland, for example, you must avoid non-essential travel outside the local authority area in which you are staying. And in an area of Scotland at Level 0, 1, or 2 you must avoid unnecessary travel into any Level 3 or 4 area.

Everyone planning to travel should return home by December 27. The only exception to this is where people are delayed as a result of travel disruption or ill-health, including self-isolating following a positive Covid test or as a contact of someone who has had a positive test. Those travelling to or from the Scottish Islands should do so within the five-day period, 23 – 27 December.

What are the rules for carers?

You can still go into another household, which is not part of your bubble, to provide care and support for a vulnerable person. If I form a bubble can I continue to visit people in hospital, hospice or a care home?

The guidelines state that the safest way to spend Christmas if you want to visit someone in a care home, hospital or hospice would be to stay within your own household and not form a bubble with any other household.

Can I visit someone in prison or detention?

You will still be able to visit a person detained in prison, young offenders institute, remand centre, secure accommodation or other place of detention.

You can read the guidelines in full here