The First Minister said: “Our strong advice this Christmas is to stay at home with your own household. Any interaction with other households should, as far as possible, be outdoors. That is the best way of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe this Christmas.
“However, we recognise that in some cases, the isolation caused by being alone over Christmas will in itself cause harm to people’s welfare and that is why we have created a window of flexibility with accompanying guidance, to ensure that any household mixing is done as safely as possible.”
For anyone choosing to spend time with other households, the First Minister has said: “First, minimise the number of people in the bubble - while three households is the legal maximum, our recommendation is that two households would be better, and you should keep as far within the maximum of eight people over the age of 12 as you can.
"In short, the smaller the bubble is, the better and safer it will be.
“Second, you should minimise the time spent with your bubble, especially indoors. The five days is a window of opportunity, not a recommended time that it is safe for you to spend together.
“You should also avoid all travel between high prevalence areas and low prevalence areas - in particular, that means avoiding travel to or from Scotland and Tier 3 areas in England, and to or from any Level 4 areas in Scotland (of which there are currently none).”
If you do form a Christmas bubble, you are advised to practice safe behaviours including washing your hands, letting in fresh air and keeping space between members of different households.
The Scottish Government has also encouraged people to consider the greater risks facing vulnerable people when making plans. The safest option may be to not form a Christmas bubble. But if you do, you are advised to be especially careful to observe the guidance of regular hand washing, meeting outdoors where possible and keeping a distance from those you do not live with.
The First Minister and The Scottish Government have said that they know the extraordinary lengths that people have gone to this year to protect their loved ones and the NHS.
While they know that people want to see life return to normal as soon as possible, in order to get there safely this cannot be a normal Christmas and we must “work together to prevent the spread of the virus, and to protect our friends, our families and our front-line workers.”
The First Minister added: “Being asked not to see loved ones at Christmas unless absolutely essential is one of the toughest things imaginable.
"But, this year, it is essential to help keep people safe.
"With a vaccination programme now underway, a return to more normal life is on the horizon - and I hope that the prospect of brighter days ahead will help all of us get through this difficult Christmas as safely as possible.”