England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will press ahead with a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas.
Boris Johnson urged people to “exercise extreme caution” as they celebrate Christmas amid fears about the spread of coronavirus but up to three households will still be allowed to mix between December 23 and 27.
Talks involving the UK government and leaders of the devolved administration have agreed to continue with the plan, but with a stronger message warning people of the dangers.
At Prime Minister’s Questions Johnson said it was right to “stress the importance of people taking care this Christmas”, particularly due to the risk of asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus.
He told MPs: “We should exercise extreme caution in the way we celebrate Christmas.
“We can celebrate it sensibly but we have to be extremely cautious in the way we behave.”
Talks took place on Tuesday and Wednesday involving the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.
Johnson told MPs there was “unanimous agreement” across the four nations “that we should proceed in principle with the existing regulations”.
“We don’t want to criminalise people’s long-made plans,” he said.
“But we do think it’s absolutely vital that people should – at this very, very tricky time – exercise a high degree of personal responsibility, especially when they come into contact with elderly people, and avoid contact with elderly people wherever possible.”
Political leaders have however agreed to stronger messaging around the need for people to limit their contacts at Christmas.
The public will be urged to keep travel to a minimum and use common sense in regard to social contact, the source said.
Johnson had been advised to follow Angela Merkel’s lead in Germany after the chancellor cut the amount of interaction allowed over the holidays.
Experts had told Downing Street that a surge in cases after Christmas would be blamed on Number 10.
“You can see two months down the track when we’re all looking back saying ‘why on earth did they do that?'” one minister told Politico.