Santa's grottos and carol singing allowed under new Christmas Covid rules

29 November 2020, 21:04 | Updated: 29 November 2020, 21:21

Santa's grottos will be allowed to open across all tiers in the run-up to Christmas
Santa's grottos will be allowed to open across all tiers in the run-up to Christmas. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Santa's grottos and carol singing will be allowed in England in the run-up to Christmas, according to the government's newly-published coronavirus guidance.

Attending church services and volunteering will also be permitted under the new regulations that were released on Sunday.

With England set to come out of a second nationwide lockdown on Wednesday, restrictions across the country will be eased to differing extents in the build-up to the festive period.

But with 99 per cent of the population facing Tier 2 and 3 measures on 2 December, most people will not enjoy the freedoms experienced in the summer.

However, Santa's grottos will be allowed across all tiers so long as they are located in venues that are permitted to open and they ensure the premises remains Covid-secure.

The advice also says school nativities will be able to take place "within existing school bubbles", with parents or carers in Tiers 1 and 2 able to attend in person, while those in Tier 3 will have to watch streams or recordings.

Read more: Welsh police stop couple crossing border to deliver Xmas presents

Watch: Older caller plans to break Christmas Covid rules due to 'loneliness'

What's the advice for carol singing?

Carol singing and services can take place indoors and outdoors if all those involved follow advice published by Public Health England, including staying two metres away from "the threshold of any dwellings".

There will not be a limit on how many people can sing together, however social distancing should be maintained and this should be taken into consideration when deciding group numbers.

In addition, only choirs will be permitted for carol singing services and audience participation will not be allowed.

However, door-to-door carol singing will be limited to six people.

Read more: Christmas mixing could cause 'large increase' in Covid cases

Watch: Jenrick confronted on PM's 'lie' about Xmas being 'as normal as possible'

What's the guidance for places of worship and services?

Visiting churches and places of worship will be allowed across all tiers once lockdown ends, but with each tier having different rules.

For example, there is no indoor mixing allowed outside of tier 1, but people in the same Christmas bubble can attend together.

Between 23-27 December, people can attend services in their respective Christmas bubbles.

Can I visit shops and Christmas markets?

The government advice says: "From 2 December, the rules on who you can meet with in shops will depend on your tier.

"The rules might be different for indoor shops and open-air shops, such as Christmas markets or Christmas tree markets."

It adds: "Between 23 and 27 December, the rules on who you can meet in shops will not change. This includes Boxing Day sales."

What are the other rules around Christmas?

Between 2 and 23 December, people must follow the guidance of their region's tier, and likewise from 28 December onwards.

But between 23 and 27 December, people may form Christmas bubbles so they can spend time together in private homes, in places of worship and in outdoor public spaces.

Each tier will have different rules regarding whether people can attend events such as Christmas lighting ceremonies.

Measures for pubs, bars and restaurants will remain in place throughout the whole festive period and will be dependent on each tier's measures.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify