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As we creep closer to December, it seems like there are new rules and announcements every day that have a fundamental impact on our lives.

This week, we learned that we could see friends and family over Christmas – with restrictions. But before that we still have many tiers to shed.

On Thursday residents of England found out which tier their area was in – including the rules attached to them – while on Friday more than two million Scots were placed in Level 4 restrictions for three weeks – equivalent to an English lockdown.

In Wales, new restrictions will come in next week while Northern Ireland has just started its own two-week  ‘circuit breaker’.

So how might this affect us in all four countries of the UK?

Here are a few things to think about.

Travel and transport

Dire warnings about squishing on to trains came from the Government earlier in the week.

This led many people to drop everyone online to book train, ferry, coach and bus tickets before the rush.

Unfortunately, many train and other modes of transport timetables have still not been announced.

You can book lots of train routes up to Christmas, but due to a combination of factors, you may have to wait for the after Christmas schedule to be announced. 

Many travel firms have updates you can subscribe to, so you know when tickets become available so sign up to those and pop the dates in your diary.

If you’ve not taken public transport for a while, you may find some rules on board unexpected or surprising.

Train companies generally insist you have a reservation for a significant journey for which you’ll get an allocated seat that you can’t move from.

You may find you’re diagonally opposite a stranger on a shared table, which isn’t exactly two meters. Fines are applying for non-mask wearers so follow the rules. You shouldn’t be sitting next to anyone, but it will be busy.

If you’re piling into the car, then check what services are available on route. Don’t forget to check if the loos are open on the way too – you’ll thank me for that on the day!


As foreign travel all but ceased, Brits have rediscovered the four corners of the United Kingdom with UK holidays selling out, prices rocketing and waiting lists increasing.

However, the restrictions that are in place in the country or tier you are living in and the place in the UK you want to go to, can have a fundamental impact on staycations up to and over Christmas.

So if you’ve booked a cottage for a big family or friends blow out, you can only attend if:

You are allowed to travel from the place you live.

You are allowed to travel to the place you’ve booked

You’re not quarantining (for whatever reason)

You meet the support bubble requirements.

If you’ve booked a staycation recently, then check the terms and conditions if you aren’t able to go due to the current Government guidelines.

The Competitions and Markets Authority made it clear that where people aren’t allowed to travel, they should not be penalised.

There’s a bit of a grey area if you booked for, say 4 families for a group booking.

In theory, two groups of people in a support bubble could still attend. In these circumstances, negotiate.

Christmas shopping

If you’re ordering gifts for your loved ones, then the big question is – how are they going to get to them for the big day?

The simple answer is we’ll just have the gifts sent direct to the recipients. However, there’s a problem here.

If goods are damaged or faulty, then you have 30 days to complain and get a full refund. But gifts sent over the next few weeks may not be opened until after that deadline.

Or it may not be apparent something isn’t working until you take it out of the packaging.

Many shops offer extended returns over Christmas – but because this is not statutory, they set the rules on how this works.

I’ve been on the major retailer’s websites and most say if you’ve opened the packaging, used the goods or even taken the plastic or tags off you can’t return. I don’t think this is particularly fair.

Either way, remember that you have six months from the point of purchase to return goods if they pack in or don’t work – though you have to give the retailer one chance to repair or replace first.

Oh, and if that delivery doesn’t turn up, don’t get fobbed off to the manufacture of goods or delivery company – it’s the retailer who is responsible for sorting out the problem

Christmas day

Anyone who’s heart sinks at the thought of the supermarket trip in the run up to Christmas may be forgiven for thinking they can dodge it with online orders this year.

Don’t bank on it. Delivery slots are likely to be in high demand as people err on the side of caution about mingling with the public in close proximity.

Supermarkets have handled the challenges of lockdown better than most sectors – thought I’d still like there to be an easier way for people in the most at risk category to get priority.

However, in the main, they’ve got stock, no need to panic. But you may struggle to get a delivery.

Get round this by buying up non-perishables now. Also, why not use your local produce suppliers and independent traders? Get an order in and show them some support.

Your local pubs and restaurants may have branched out in to providing some of the trimmings for delivery so save yourself some stress there.

I’ve also spoken to people around the UK who tell me their milk delivery services have branched out to other groceries too.

So don’t put your eggs all in one basket. Literally.

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