Brits could reportedly be allowed to spend Christmas with up to four households with lockdown restrictions eased for a festive five-day long weekend.
But the decision to relax the Rule of Six and allow families to form "social bubbles" could see the Government impose a 25-day lockdown in January, Public Health England officials say.
Ministers are next week due to announce a new system of regional restrictions after the end of second lockdown period is expected to end on December 2.
Government scientists are pushing for the three-tier system to be strengthened in the run-up to Christmas to prevent an upsurge in infections, The Sun reports.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to relax Covid rules over Christmas to allow families to come together "at the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year".
Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling encouraged the first lockdown in the UK, has suggested creating support bubbles with up to four households for a week.
Ministers are reportedly targeting the five-day weekend to ease restrictions – with Christmas Eve falling on a Thursday and a planned Bank Holiday for Monday, December 28.
It is not clear whether there would be an upper limit on the number allowed to gather in one place during the festivities.
Young children could also be exempt from any numerical restrictions during the Christmas period.
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Dr Thomas House, a member of a Sage sub-group, said: "We saw how quickly the virus exploded when students returned to university, so want to avoid that.
"But everything has risk, and seeing family over Christmas may be seen as an acceptable risk."
Dr Susan Hopkins, a director at Public Health England, also said: "We are very keen that we have a Christmas as close to normal as possible.
"That requires all of us to make every effort over this national restriction period and even in early December to get the cases as low as possible and to reduce the risk of transmission within households and between families.
"A final decision will rest with the Government."
Addressing the Government's plans for Christmas, Professor Dame Angela McLean – Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence – said: "We did send some advice in over the weekend.
"But we genuinely don't know what decisions have been made."
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