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We need to be upfront about it – 2020 has been a year like no other.

How we mark the festive season – particularly Christmas and New Year – is going to be different. No matter how you choose to celebrate – or whether you celebrate at all – we think it’s important to recognise this is an important time of year for so many people.

While things will be different this year, we still wanted to be able to spread a little festive cheer. So we’re going to be sharing ideas on how you can celebrate from home safely, including a virtual advent calendar and a virtual high street to help you support Portsmouth businesses, as well as ways to support your local community and find ways of coping with this different festive season.

From Sunday 20 December, Portsmouth will be under Tier 4: Stay at Home restrictions. This means that you cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas.

Advent calendar

Each day in the run up to Christmas, a new door will be revealed. Stay tuned for activity ideas, virtual events, ways to support your community and tips for coping with a different festive season.

Staying safe

From Sunday 20 December, new rules apply to Portsmouth. There are much tighter restrictions in place, meaning you should stay at home as much as possible.

The actions you take this December can and will have an impact. If we play our part now, we can help make 2021 a better year for everyone.

  • Follow the guidance:
    • Stay at home as much as possible, unless it’s for a specific purpose including work, essential shopping or medical reasons.
    • Do not meet indoors – in any venue, public or private – with those you do not live with or those in your support bubble. You can meet one other person outside your household outdoors, but should maintain 2m social distance.
    • Don’t leave your home to travel unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. If you need to travel you should stay local and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.
  • Wash your hands more regularly, particularly after returning home
  • Cover your face in public spaces when you need to, unless you have an exemption
  • Ask for a test straight away if you show any symptoms of coronavirus, no matter how mild. Symptoms include a temperature, a new persistent cough or a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Keep using the NHS COVID-19 app to make it easier to test and trace contacts
  • Self-isolate properly when you’re told to – and remember,  help is available if you need it 
  • Reduce the number of journeys you take. Walk or cycle whenever possible and avoid busy times and routes on public transport if you need to travel.

Keep playing your part for Portsmouth.

New rules for Christmas

On Saturday 19 December, the Prime Minister confirmed that those living in tier 4 areas like Portsmouth should not mix with anyone outside their own household at Christmas, though support bubbles will remain in place for those at particular risk of loneliness or isolation.

Across the rest of the country, the Christmas rules allowing up to three households to meet will now be limited to Christmas Day only, rather than the five days as previously set out.

As before, there will be no relaxation on 31 December, so people must not break the rules at New Year.

General advice

  • Under Tier 4, you can meet indoors with people you live with, people in your support bubble and those you are in a childcare bubble with.
  • You should only use your childcare bubble for childcare, not for any other purposes – for example to socialise or for an occasion, at any time, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
  • If you live in a Tier 4 area and are part of a support bubble or a childcare bubble with someone who lives in a Tier 1, 2 or 3 area, you can continue to meet indoors.
  • If you live in a Tier 1, 2 or 3 area and are part of a support bubble or a childcare bubble with someone who lives in a Tier 4 area, you can continue to meet indoors.
  • You can maintain contact arrangements for parents and children that live apart. This includes when parents and children live in different tiers. This does not require a bubble to be created.

Meeting people at Christmas

The general advice above also applies on Christmas Day, but you should also remember:

  • People in Tier 4 areas cannot form a Christmas bubble with other households under any circumstances.
  • You can maintain contact arrangements for parents and children that live apart, including Christmas Day. This includes when parents and children live in different tiers. This does not require a bubble to be created.

Read the full guidance on the government website.

Christmas and New Year opening hours

Opening hours for many of our services over the festive period – including the Civic Offices – are:

24, 25, 26, 27, 28 December – closed

29, 30, 31 December – open

1, 2, 3 January – closed

Rubbish and recycling collections

Normal dayRevised day
Friday 25 DecemberMonday 28 December
Monday 28 DecemberTuesday 29 December
Tuesday 29 DecemberWednesday 30 December
Wednesday 30 DecemberThursday 31 December
Thursday 31 DecemberSaturday 2 January
Friday 1 JanuaryMonday 4 January
Monday 4 JanuaryTuesday 5 January
Tuesday 5 JanuaryWednesday 6 January
Wednesday 6 JanuaryThursday 7 January
Thursday 7 JanuaryFriday 8 January
Friday 8 JanuarySaturday 9 January

Please put your rubbish and recycling out by 7am. If you miss your collection, you can take it to the Port Solent Household Waste Recycling Centre (booking essential).

Green Waste Club: first collection in 2021 – Monday 4 January

Bulky waste: first collection 2021 – Tuesday 5 January

Healthcare waste: Wednesday and Thursday collections will happen as usual over the festive period.

Coronavirus testing

Local Test Centres in Portsmouth and the Regional Test Centre in Southampton will be open every day over the festive season.

Christmas and New Year opening hours
DayLocal Test SitesRegional Test Site
Thursday 24 December8am-8pm8am-5pm
Friday 25 December9am-3pm9am-3pm
Saturday 26 December8am-8pm8am-8pm
Sunday 27 December8am-8pm8am-8pm
Monday 28 December9am-3pm9am-3pm
Thursday 31 December8am-8pm8am-5pm
Friday 1 January 20219am-3pm9am-3pm

To request a test call 119 or visit:

The Jobcentre

  • Closed from 24 December and reopens 29 December.
  • Closed on 1 January and reopens 2 January.

Business Helpline

  • Closed from 24 – 28 December and will reopen on 29, 30 and 31 December.
  • Closed on 1 January and reopen on 4 January.

Portsmouth International Port and Portico

The port and freight gates are open as normal but there are no passenger services on 25 December. The customs agency is open every day (apart from 25 December) to support businesses with new customs rules.

HIVE Portsmouth

If you are in need of additional support please visit the HIVE Portsmouth directory of services. The HIVE Portsmouth helpline (023 9261 6709) will be closed:

  • between 4pm on 23 December and 9am on 28 December, and
  • between 4pm on 31 December and 9am on 4 January.

When the helpline is closed HIVE Portsmouth will continue to check social media messages and may refer you to other organisations that can offer you support. You can Find HIVE Portsmouth via @HIVEPortsmouth on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and send them a direct message.

Other local services

You can see more about how other local services are affected by Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions on our coronavirus webpages, in the advice for residents section.

Supporting local businesses

Give back to your community

Why not start a new festive tradition and give a little something back to your city?

Help and support at Christmas

If you or your family is struggling and in need of support over Christmas, there is help at hand. You are not alone.

Help with food

Local food banks can provide emergency food parcels over Christmas and New Year. Foodbanks provide around three days food for your household if you can’t afford to buy food.

The Salvation Army on Albert Road is providing emergency food parcels from 24 Dec – 3rd Jan (including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) via phone request.

Call: 023 9282 1164

You can find all Portsmouth food bank and community meal opening times over Christmas on our help with food webpage.

Help with mental wellbeing

If you’re struggling to cope, feeling anxious, lonely or depressed, you’re not alone. You can call the Samaritans free anytime, from any phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: on 116 123. You can also email

Young people or parents and carers worried about a child’s wellbeing can also contact Childline via the website or by calling 0800 1111.

If you are self-isolating, read advice from mental health charity MIND on managing your mental health in relation to coronavirus and self-isolating.

There is more advice as well as information on where you can turn for help on our mental health and wellbeing pages.

Help for vulnerable adults and children

You can contact the adult social care team on 023 9268 0810 or email The out of hours contact number is 02392 680810.

You can contact the children’s social care and safeguarding team on 023 9283 9111 or 023 9268 8793 or email The out of hours contact number is 0300 555 1373.

Help for rough sleepers

The Homeless Day Service is open every day, including Christmas Day, 8am-4pm.  Anyone who is sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough can access the service for breakfast, snacks, hot drinks and other services like laundry facilities.

Call: 023 9288 2689

Visit: Yew House Ground Floor, Milton Road, PO3 6BA (next to Hope House)

Help if you’re unwell

If you need medical help, call the NHS on 111 or use NHS 111 online. Don’t just show up at the Emergency Department (Accident and Emergency) – use 111 first, and they’ll give you all the support you need.

If it is a medical emergency, call 999.

Help with money

If you’re having a tough time financiallyyou can find information and help on our money advice pageAdvice Portsmouth is also a good first point of contact. It offers free, confidential and local advice on bills, benefits, debt, housing and employment issues. Call 023 9279 4340, text 07789 550593, use their webchat or email

A benefits calculator can also quickly calculate if you could be receiving additional support. Entitledto is free to use and completely confidential.

We’ve produced a guide which lists services and support that is available right now to help, listen and support you during this crisis. Take a look at the crisis card.