FAMILIES across the UK will be able to enjoy a “careful and limited” Christmas and Hogmanay, Michael Gove has signalled, after more talks took place between the governments of the four nations to co-ordinate measures over the festive period.

As one expert suggested that the infection rate was now below one, the Cabinet Office Minister explained that he, Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts held more talks on Saturday night to thrash out “shared arrangements” across the UK covering several days to enable people to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with loved ones.

Mr Gove explained: “Welcoming the good progress made by all administrations over the past few days to design a single set of arrangements that can apply across the UK, ministers reiterated the importance of allowing families and friends to meet in a careful and limited way, while recognising that this will not be a normal festive period and the risks of transmission remain very real.

“As such, ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious and that, wherever possible, people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact.”

The Cabinet Office Minister pointed out that in regards to Northern Ireland, ministers also recognised that people would want to see family and friends across the island of Ireland and this was the subject of discussions with the Irish Government.

“Work is continuing to finalise the arrangements, including relating to travel. The UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive hope to conclude this work this week, subject to agreement by each administration,” added Mr Gove.

Earlier, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, warned that “Christmas is not going to be normal this year” but also stressed ministers were trying to work out a way for people to see their loved ones over the festive period.

Meanwhile, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter said the latest data clearly showed infection rates were coming down and he predicted the R number was now below one.

He told Times Radio: “My guess is that R is currently less than one on average; that doesn’t mean everywhere in the country. Matt Hancock is very cautious. The data really does suggest it’s coming down.”