Santa’s grottos, nativity plays and door-to-door carol singing will be permitted once lockdown ends, according to new Christmas guidance.
New government advice says grottos will be allowed in all tiers if they are in venues that can open – but social distancing must be in place.
Door-to-door carol singing is also allowed when lockdown is lifted in England on Wednesday, and those performing or rehearsing do not have to adhere to gathering limits.
People in all tiers will also be able to attend places of worship, but the rules on who you can meet there will depend on your tier.
Performances by pupils, such as nativity plays and other seasonal events, can take place within existing school bubbles but should avoid mixing across groups.
From 23 to 27 December, people can form a Christmas bubble if necessary in order to see family and friends, with travel to other parts of the country also permitted during this time.
Earlier this week, Conservative MP Andrew Selous told the Commons that churches and cathedrals can now approach Advent and Christmas with certainty.
He said: “Clergy have already demonstrated that they’ve made their buildings COVID-secure and many cathedrals and churches are planning to have multiple services to accommodate more people as less are allowed in each service.
On carol singing rules, he said: “The further good news is that while indoor singing is limited to performers only, we can all take part in outdoor and door-to-door singing, staying two metres apart or away from the threshold, and nativity plays for under-18s are permitted in accordance with the performing arts guidance.”
Meanwhile, rules surrounding visiting shops and Christmas markets vary across the tiers, with the government urging people to check the rules in their areas for indoor and open-air shops, as well as Christmas tree markets.
The Christmas guidance states that rules will be back in place by New Year’s Eve, with the government reinforcing that Christmas bubbles will no longer apply.
The guidance adds that the rules on who people can meet with in bars, pubs and restaurant will also vary across tiers, and those rules will not change between 23 and 27 December.
The new guidance comes after the government’s scientific advisers warned that the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas will increase infections “potentially by a large amount”.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said the prevalence of COVID-19 “could easily double” over the festive period with “substantial mixing” of people.