Christmas restrictions explained: What changes from today?

Christmas Restrictions Explained: What Changes From Today? Christmas Restrictions Explained: What Changes From Today?
The rules around household visits and travel between counties will change from Friday. Photo: PA
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Tomas Doherty

Coronavirus rules are changing over the Christmas period to allow a limited amount of increased mixing. The planned third phase of reopening starts from Friday and will give family and friends the opportunity to celebrate Christmas and New Year together.

Which restrictions will change?

The rules around household visits and travel between counties will change from today, December 18th.

For the next three weeks, households can mix with up to two other households. Previously, people could only visit those in their own household bubble.

People can now travel outside their county until January 6th.

In the North, people will be able to travel anywhere in the UK from December 22nd to 28th, and “bubble” with up to three other households from December 23rd to 27th.

Do the existing rules stay in place?

Yes, the other restrictions in place in the Republic since early December remain unchanged.


Non-essential retail and personal services remain open, as do hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, with services limited to guests only.

Restaurants and pubs that serve food can open for indoor dining. Other pubs stay closed, except for takeaway or delivery.

Weddings and funerals can take place, with up to 25 guests permitted.

Professional sports matches and events can take place behind closed doors. Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools are open for individual training only.

Gatherings of 15 people may take place outdoors, including non-contact training.

People should continue to work from home unless absolutely necessary to attend in person. Public transport capacity is limited to 50 per cent.

When will the guidance change again?

The restrictions are due to end on January 6th, however the spread of the disease in recent days indicates the Government might have to reimpose bans on household visits sooner.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Thursday evening that public health officials recommended the Government shorten the period of relaxed restrictions to the end of December.

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Restrictions could be reimposed on the hospitality sector and visits between households could reduce from three to two.

Mr Martin said the Government would take the recommendation “very seriously” and would make a decision when it meets on Tuesday.

In the North, the Stormont Executive announced a six-week lockdown would come into effect on December 26th amid rising cases of the virus.

Case numbers continue to rise in Northern Ireland despite the latest two-week circuit-break. Hospitals across the region are running over capacity.

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