Enjoy a wonderful – and safe – holiday season!

The festive season – traditionally a time to mix with family and friends – is almost upon us.

We can all have a happy and safe holiday season by continuing to follow coronavirus safety rules. Whether it is travelling, getting together with family, an office party, shopping or going to a pantomime, there are rules we can all follow to give the gift of protecting each other from COVID-19.

As the weather gets colder more of us will meet indoors so it is important to let in fresh air. Simply opening windows or doors, even for ten minutes, helps disperse the virus.

Fresh air – Opening doors and windows for ten minutes can help you and your loves ones say safe.

Face coverings are a good way to reduce transmission so it’s a good idea to wear one in busy public settings and when meeting members from other households to help limit transmission. A full list of where it is required to wear a face covering in the UK is available on gov.uk. And face coverings are now compulsory in indoor venues including cinemas, theatres and places of worship in England. Businesses must also play their part in keeping employees and customers safe this Christmas. Employers should check their COVID-19 risk assessment is fit for winter, and remember to keep busy premises well ventilated. They should ask their employees and customers (where legally required) to wear face coverings and encourage customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, so if there is an outbreak, the app alerts will allow them to take swift action to limit the spread of the virus. In England from Monday 13 December, those who can will be advised to work from home.

Face coverings – To protect yourself and others, face coverings must be worn in shops and on public transport.

More people are now eligible for jabs as the booster programme forges ahead – in light of the new Omicron variant, the UK Government has expanded the booster programme to all adults over 18 and announced that all eligible people will be offered a top-up jab by the end of January. Getting fully vaccinated is one of the best presents you can give yourself and others as it offers the best protection.

Vaccinations – Being fully vaccinated remains the best way to protect yourself and all others around you.

Make taking a rapid lateral flow test part of your preparations for a party, trip to the theatre, shopping, meeting family and friends or visiting vulnerable people. Rapid lateral flow tests can be picked up for free from many pharmacies using a collect code, any COVID-19 test or vaccination centre and or ordered online from gov.uk.

Remember to report your results – whether positive, negative or void – and if it is positive you must selfisolate and take a PCR test.

Take a test – Make taking rapid COVID-19 tests part of preparations for socialising during this festive period.

In England, from Wednesday 15 December the NHS COVID Pass on the NHS COVID-19 App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and settings where large crowds gather. People will be able to demonstrate proof of two vaccine doses via the app. Proof of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted.

If you plan to travel abroad check the latest guidance on what you need to do and if you are expecting visitors check they know the rules on entering the UK – arrival passengers must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test. After arriving in England you must make sure to take a PCR test by day two after entry.

Let’s make this Christmas one to remember for all the right reasons!

For further information, national variations, regional guidance and latest updates visit gov.uk/coronavirus