Sweden and France have told citizens not to make Christmas travel plans - will the UK follow suit?
The question of Christmas is on everyone’s mind, as coronavirus restrictions continue to threaten to disrupt family gatherings in the UK.
Some other countries across Europe have already warned residents that it’s too early to make Christmas plans, and to prepare for possible restrictions. But will the UK government say the same?
Regional travel restricted in Sweden
Numerous countries in Europe have told residents not to plan ahead for Christmas, as it’s too soon to know if travel arrangements will be possible.
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People in Sweden have been told to prepare for possible travel restrictions during the festive season, with Irish and French authorities deeming it too soon to say if residents could make travel arrangements.
Anders Tegnel, Sweden's top state epidemiologist, told citizens to prepare for the possibility of travel being restricted between different areas of the country during the Christmas period. This is so that regional healthcare services avoid being overwhelmed.
France is currently under a second lockdown, with people only able to leave their homes to go to work (if they cannot work from home), to buy essential goods, seek medical help, or to exercise for a maximum of one hour a day.
Schools and creches remain open, but all non-essential shops, restaurants and bars are currently closed.
Although some shops may be allowed to reopen from 1 December, depending on case numbers, France’s Prime Minister, Jean Castex, said it was currently "too early" to say if citizens could travel at Christmas.
Will the UK follow suit?
The UK hasn’t yet been told not to make plans with family at Christmas, but different coronavirus restrictions have been put in place across the four nations. The hope is that these will curb the spread of coronavirus, and potentially allow families to reunite this festive period.
England is currently in a second lockdown until 2 December, with shops, pubs and restaurants closed and people urged to stay at home, except for specific purposes. At the end of the second lockdown period, the country will then return to a regional approach, based on the latest data.
Scotland currently has a tiered system in place, with different rules in different locations, depending on which tier an area comes under.
A ‘firebreak’ second lockdown has recently ended in Wales, and a partial lockdown has come to end in Northern Ireland - although measures still remain in place for both nations.
At the end of October, the environment secretary, George Eustice, said it was “too early to say" what coronavirus rules will be in place by Christmas, warning that people "may not be able to get together in the larger groups that they normally would.”
A plan has been announced to get students in England home for the festive period in a safe manner, with students to be allocated departure dates during a travel window between 3 and 9 December.
In Wales, students are being asked to travel by 9 December at the latest, and Northern Ireland is expected to publish its plans for students in the upcoming days.
The Scottish government also wants as many of its students going home for Christmas to be offered voluntary coronavirus tests before they travel.
Discussions have also recently taken place in regards to the four UK countries taking a joint approach to Covid-19 rules over Christmas.
The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish first ministers had a virtual meeting with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and other senior UK officials, with Mr Gove saying they all recognised that families across the UK "want to be able to see their loved ones this Christmas.”