Priti Patel has said people should “change” their Christmas plans to avoid spreading coronavirus across the country.
The home secretary said the government wanted the public “not to travel” to see others where possible.
The government will ease coronavirus restrictions and legally allow up to three households to mix between December 23 and 27.
But amid fears there will be a further surge in infections if people take full advantage of the relaxed rules, Boris Johnson on Wednesday asked people to have a “smaller” Christmas than the law allows.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Thursday morning, Patel said said people should be “conscientious”.
“We’re urging people not to travel. Why would you travel? If you’re in a low tier area, why would you travel into a high tier area? So people will exercise their judgment,” she said.
“I would urge people to change. I won’t be seeing my parents this Christmas, my parents live in a different part of the country and I will not travel to see them.
“I want to protect them, I don’t want to be spreading the virus. I feel I will take that responsibility and others will make that judgment too.”
England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said modelling indicated the looser restrictions would lead to more deaths.
“Keep it small, keep it short, keep it local and think of the most vulnerable people,” he told a Downing Street press conference.
Johnson had wanted to maintain a UK-wide approach to Christmas, but Wales deviated from the plan in legally limiting households allowed to mix to two plus one single person household.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said her “strong recommendation” was for people to stay within their own household and own home.
In Northern Ireland, first minister Arlene Foster said the public must take “all and every precaution” at Christmas and proposals for further restrictions will be brought forward on Thursday.
It comes as Matt Hancock is set to unveil what, if any, changes are made to the tiers in England.
The health secretary is due to update MPs on Thursday morning on whether any regions of the country will be moved up or down a tier.
London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire were placed under tier 3 on Wednesday, ahead of the scheduled change.
It means 34 million people or 61% of England’s population are living under the toughest level of restrictions.