As Omicron surges through the UK, the festive period is once again shrouded in uncertainty.

So far, no restrictions have been announced for Christmas 2021, however reports suggest countries around the UK could see some circuit breaker measures introduced after December 25. 

This time last year, a planned relaxation of rules for the Christmas period was scrapped as Covid numbers soared. 

Here's all the rules that were in place during Christmas 2020...

What were the Christmas Covid rules last year?

Last year in Scotland, a planned relaxation of the rules for the Christmas period was limited to Christmas day only. 

Initially, the rules were to be eased for five days around Christmas, to allow people to meet with family and friends. 

However, following the emergence of a new variant, the Scottish government announced on December 19 that this plan was to be scrapped. 

These were the rules announced on December 19 2020:

  • the planned easing of restrictions around Christmas will be limited to Christmas Day itself, and not the previous 5 day window that was planned
  • legal household limits will still apply - a maximum of 8 people from 3 households - however advice is to minimise the numbers. Where possible, people should celebrate the festive period at home in their own household and meet with others outdoors
  • other than for specific exemptions, travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK will not be legal
  • travel within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day
  • from Boxing Day, all of Scotland will have Level 4 restrictions applied, including the closure of non-essential retail and hospitality. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities where restrictions have been reduced in recent weeks, who will be placed in Level 3
  • from Boxing Day, in line with existing law, travel across local authority boundaries between areas in Level 3 or 4 will not be legal other than for specific exempt purposes

What are the Christmas rules in 2021?

There are currently no Christmas specific rules in place for this year, however Scotland's first minister has encouraged people to keep gatherings as small as feasible. 

Speaking on Monday December 20 2021, Nicola Sturgeon said: "We’re not asking people to cancel or change their plans, but think about how to make them safer."

She added: "For Christmas Day and Boxing Day, we're not asking people to cancel plans but think about keeping them as small as your family circumstances allow and make sure everyone is testing before going, and following rules around hygiene and ventilation.

"Then after Christmas, for a period, limit your contacts again, so we can suppress infection as much as we possibly can, as we speed up the vaccination program."

The Scottish government is also urging people to limit their social contacts in the run up to Christmas to give people the best chance of keeping family members safe from the virus.