The government is working on a plan to enable families to celebrate Christmas together.
Cabinet minister Alok Sharma has said he wants “as normal a Christmas as possible”, but warned it may not be “as normal” as usual.
So how is the festive period likely to be different this year?
1. Will families meet on Christmas Day?
The governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are trying to work out a common approach so that families across the UK can meet up on 25 December.
No final decisions are likely to be made until mid-December, until health chiefs in England learn whether coronavirus cases have fallen during the latest lockdown, which runs until 2 December.
Prof Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the March UK-wide lockdown, has suggested extending support bubbles to up to four households for a week to allow get-togethers.
If that happens, other advice could suggest people:
- Travel by car, not public transport
- Only hold small gatherings
- Do not see anyone outside support bubbles either side of and over the Christmas period
For people who do have to use public transport, pre-booking may be an issue. For example, LNER have not yet released any tickets beyond 11 December.
2. Smaller turkeys on the table
Fears that a lack of skilled overseas workers on poultry farms could hit the supply of turkeys have been overcome after travel rules were relaxed so they could travel to the UK.
But many people are buying smaller turkeys than usual because they are likely to have fewer guests.
Any turkey shortage may make some people consider a vegetarian or vegan meal instead.
3. Work parties set for Zoom
This year’s work celebrations seem certain to take place on Zoom and other online platforms.
Rules on big groups meeting up in pubs or anywhere outdoors are very unlikely to be eased in December, so seeing friends for a pre-Christmas drink or meal will probably not be allowed.
Current rules for socialising outside your household/support bubble/extended household are:
4. Midnight Mass chances unknown
At the moment, it is not known what will happen about traditional Christmas religious services like midnight Mass.
In England, places of worship are currently closed for group prayer, apart from at funerals.
Up to 50 people can attend indoor services in Scotland in levels zero to three areas, but only up to 20 in level four places.
Places of worship have reopened in Wales, but with social distancing in place and communal singing banned.
They are also open in Northern Ireland with a limit of 15 people attending, or 25 for weddings and funerals.
5. Online shopping surge expected
While in-person shopping in non-food shops can currently happen in all of the UK except England, online retailers are expecting a big surge in demand this year.
In September, shoppers were warned by an industry boss to buy as early as possible.
Andy Mulcahy, from the online businesses’ industry body, told the BBC: “At this point, I think we can expect an increase of at least 30% for the peak festive trading season, but if stores have to close this might push to 50%.”
Last posting dates inside the UK range from 18 to 23 December, while we have already passed some international dates.
6. Watch a panto from your car
Theatres in England are currently closed, but plans have been made for some Christmas pantomimes in December once the lockdown is over.
While many venues and production companies have cancelled their shows, others are going ahead thanks to National Lottery backing.
One is at the London Palladium, where the Lottery will buy seats that cannot be used because of social distancing. It will also donate 20,000 free tickets to Lottery players.
Meanwhile a drive-in show – the Car Park Panto – will tour Great Britain with audience members watching from inside their cars.