Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned people to be "jolly careful" with meeting other households over Christmas as he urged people to "squeeze the disease".

At a press conference this evening, Mr Johnson promised restrictions would be relaxed over Christmas, although details have not yet been finalised with the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said: “I know that many of us want and need Christmas with our families, we feel this year we deserve it.

“But this is not the moment to let the virus rip for the sake of Christmas parties.

“Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be jolly careful, especially with elderly relatives.”

The latest update came as Mr Johnson set out his 64-page Winter Plan – which detailed how the UK's response to covid-19 will look until March.

A relaxation of meeting restrictions over Christmas, visitors able to "hug and hold hands" with people inside care homes, and a firm end to national lockdown measures on December 2 were all announced by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Today, Oxford-AstraZeneca became the third team – alongside Pfizer and Moderna – to announce positive developments from their attempts to create a vaccination against covid-19.

Mr Johnson added: “We can hear the drumming hooves of the cavalry coming over the brow of the hill but they are not here yet.

“Even if all three vaccines are approved, even if the production timetables are met – and vaccines notoriously fall behind in their production timetables – it will be months before we can be sure we have inoculated everyone that needs a vaccine.”

It has been widely acknowledged that none of the jabs have yet been approved for use, and getting people inoculated will be a major undertaking.

The Prime Minister also indicated that restrictions could be in place until after Easter, with a vaccine and mass testing meaning "things will look and feel very different" after that point.

But he warned the months ahead “will be hard, they will be cold, they include January and February when the NHS is under its greatest pressure”.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty expressed an “absolutely massive thank you” to people up and down the country who are volunteering for studies into Covid-19.

“Because as we’ve repeatedly said, it is only science that is going to get us out of this hole,” he said, adding that “it will be a long haul”.

Oxford Vaccine Group director Professor Andrew Pollard said it has been “a very exciting day” and paid tribute to the 20,000 volunteers in the trials around the world, including more than 10,000 in the UK.

“And of course there’s a lot of uncertainty in joining a clinical trial, and I think for all of us, having reached this point today, where we have evidence that the vaccine works, that we have a huge debt of gratitude to all of those people who have taken part,” he said.