City Council reminds residents to stay safe this Christmas

Published: Monday, 21st December 2020

Following the updated COVID-19 guidance by Government, Oxford City Council is reminding residents to stay safe this Christmas and to continue to follow the rules to help protect the most vulnerable.

On Saturday, the Government announced new measures being introduced to try and stop the spread of the new variant of COVID-19 from spreading beyond London and the South East.

While Oxford and Oxfordshire remains in tier 2 for now, government is keeping this under review and many areas surrounding Oxfordshire are now in Tier 4. The Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, warned today that measures may "need to be increased in some places, in due course, not reduced".

The new measures included strict national guidance around movement and household mixing this Christmas:

  • Within Tier 4 areas, it is now not permissible to meet other people indoors, unless you ordinarily live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household.
  • In Oxford and Oxfordshire, in Tier 2, you may see a maximum of two other households indoors (your ‘Christmas bubble’) on Christmas Day (25 December) only. You cannot see anyone from a Tier 4 area. You should think very carefully about the risks and only form a Christmas bubble if you feel you absolutely need to. Wherever possible, discuss alternatives to meeting up in person.

More guidance around Christmas can be found on GOV.UK.

“While Oxford remains under Tier 2 restrictions after the Government’s announcement on Saturday, the update around Christmas will undoubtedly have impacted the plans of some residents across the city. 

“We ask that people continue to be careful in order to help protect the vulnerable, especially if out Christmas shopping. Businesses across the city, including in our Covered Market have been working hard to help keep everyone safe during this period. I would like to thank all businesses who have taken measures required to support this. 

“I would also like to remind residents that there is help available during this period. The Council will be continuing to provide essential support to those in hardship throughout the festive season, and community groups across Oxford will also be providing food support during this time. Our online Activity Hub also has a range of resources, including mental health support for people to access. 

“Christmas will be very different this year, but with delivery of the vaccine beginning we can see some light at the end of the tunnel, even though we still need to be very careful to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council

The Director of Public Health for Oxfordshire has also reminded people to follow the rules this festive season, as cases are continuing to rise in Oxfordshire.

“We urge people to be extremely cautious and strictly abide by the rules as the festive season approaches. The number of COVID cases is rising steeply here in Oxfordshire and elsewhere. The virus thrives on people being in close personal contact with each other and the best way to control it is for people to keep a distance from each other outside of their own households.  This is especially important since the new variant of the virus is 70% more transmissible and is increasingly becoming the dominant strain across the country.  Until the vaccine becomes more widespread that is our best method of stopping the spread.”

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health

Over the Christmas period the Council is continuing to offer support to members of the public, and coronavirus related support services are continuing.
Oxford COVID Secure team

Officers from the Council’s Covid-secure teams will continue to visit businesses, shopping areas and other public areas during the day and also during evening opening hours. Residents can report issues and concerns by email to

Emergency Support

Essential support will also continue over the Christmas period for those in hardship.

The City Council will continue to offer support across a range of needs, and can be a first point of contact for Council and non-Council services. Throughout the holiday period there will always be non-emergency, and emergency phone cover. To contact the Council call 01865 249 811.

Normal service times begin again on Monday 4 Jan.

There are also a number of community groups providing food for those in need.

See a list of community groups offering support.

The Council encourages residents who need mental health support during this period to visit its Activity Hub – which provides links to online advice on exercise, mental health, learning and cultural activities.

Testing over Christmas

Coronavirus testing facilities remain open across Oxford, and to get tested if they think they have symptoms.

Table showing coronavirus testing centre opening times over Christmas period


24 December 25 December 28 December 29 December 30 December

Regional testing site

8am to 5pm

9am to 3pm

9am to 3pm

8am to 5pm

9am to 3pm

Local Testing Site

8am to 8pm

9am to 3pm

9am to 3pm

8am to 8pm

9am to 3pm

Mobile testing unit

10am to 4pm

10am to 3pm

10am to 3pm

10am to 4pm

10am to 4pm

Local testing sites are at:

  • Woodgreen Leisure Centre in Banbury,
  • Oxpens in Oxford,
  • Oxford Brookes Headington Campus
  • Woodford Way, Witney

The regional testing centre at Oxford Parkway will close for 24 hours on 22 December for refurbishment work. While this work takes place on 22 December testing will take place at Dalton Barracks near Abingdon.

Booking is required for all testing sites, and there are plenty of slots available across all the county’s sites. Anyone with symptoms should book on the NHS website or by calling 119.