Families will be allowed to spend longer together at
But regulations published last night appear to suggest family members will be able to stay longer if their train is delayed or if their car breaks down. Such families would be able to extend their bubble for a short time ‘immediately after the Christmas period’.
The loophole applies to all members of three households even if just one person is delayed.
Families will be allowed to spend longer together at Christmas if one member cannot return home thanks to ‘unforeseen disruption to travel’
The regulations state: ‘This sub-paragraph applies where one or more persons at the gathering has not been able to return to their home because of unforeseen disruption to travel.’
For everyone else, it will be illegal for more than three households to mix between December 23 and 27.
The document says: ‘Where a member of a household is or has been in a linked Christmas household in relation to members of two other households, the person cannot be linked with the members of any other household under this regulation.’ There are exceptions for children whose parents live separately.
Students will be allowed to travel home for Christmas from Thursday and to return to schools and universities after the festive break before February 8.
The loophole applies to all members of three households even if just one person is delayed (file image)
Anyone who breaks the rules faces fines of up to £6,400 or could be taken to court, while firms and bosses could face prosecution for organising illegal gatherings and have to pay up to £10,000.
It also emerged last night that laws setting out coronavirus restrictions for England after lockdown ends could be in force until February. The regulations come into effect tomorrow.
Under the latest legislation, only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier One controls.
Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West will be in the most restrictive Tier Three. This means household mixing will be banned except in limited circumstances, such as in parks, bars and restaurants will be limited to takeaway or delivery services and people will be advised to avoid travelling outside their area.
The majority of England will face Tier Two restrictions, meaning a ban on households mixing indoors, and pubs and restaurants only able to sell alcohol with a ‘substantial meal’.
Ministers must review whether areas need to remain under Tier Two or Three restrictions at least once every 14 days, with the first having to take place by December 16. The need for the tier system must be reviewed every 28 days, with the first to be carried out by December 30.
The regulations could be in force until February when the law expires if the Government does not scrap or amend them in the meantime. The latest laws also amend the curfew for pubs and restaurants which are allowed to stay open – meaning last orders must take place at 10pm with venues closing by 11pm.
But takeaway services can continue through the night.