Boris Johnson has confirmed the relaxation of rules around Christmas will not change.

But the prime minister issued a plea for people to "think hard" about plans over the festive period.

Here is everything you need to know about the rules around Christmas - and the government's new advice about staying safe.

Boris Johnson: Have a merry little Christmas - and I do mean

What is the law?

The regulations allow for a five-day "Christmas window" from December 23 to 27 when people can form exclusive bubbles of up to three households across the UK.

Christmas bubbles can meet in private homes and gardens, places of worship and public outdoor spaces.

Boris Johnson told the Commons that there was "unanimous agreement" across the four nations "that we should proceed in principle with the existing regulations".

What is the advice for England?

The prime minister said that "we don't want to criminalise people's long-made plans" but issued a warning for people to be "extremely cautious" over their actions.

He said the message was: "A smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas."

What does a 'small' Christmas mean?

At a Downing Street press conference Boris Johnson issued advice for plans over the Christmas period.

The advice was:

  • Avoid overnight stays
  • Three households mixing is the "maximum" and not a "target to aim for"
  • Do not travel from areas with high infection rates to less badly hit ones
  • Do not see elderly relatives until they have been vaccinated
  • Do not shop in crowds during Boxing Days sales
  • Do not celebrate New Year in large groups
  • Reduce the number of people you are in contact with as soon as possible

What do the experts make of it all?

Two top medical journals have called for the government to call off its "rash" decision.

In a rare joint editorial, the British Medical Journal and Health Service Journal said the government "is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives".

They added that the government had been too slow to introduce restrictions in the spring and again in the autumn, and restrictions were needed over Christmas ahead of a "likely third wave".