A COVID-19 Christmas- What can we expect?

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Christmas with Covid- Guildhall Square, Portsmouth.

As the UK entered its second lockdown and the Christmas season draws near, a question regularly crosses the minds of the population across the world: ‘will we have Christmas this year?’. If we do have a Christmas celebration this year, what will it be like and what changes can be expected?

The mixing of up to three social bubbles will be granted between the 23rd and the 27th December, enabling families to reunite and celebrate the festive season as traditionally as possible. This is anticipated to bring some much-needed family time and boost the morale of the country in this trying time, but at what cost?

Upon coming out of the national lockdown on the 2nd December, a three-tiered system will be implemented, depending on where you live in the UK. Then, the brief grace period where restrictions are lifted will be implemented over Christmas, to enable the UK to visit their loved ones and make Christmas as special as possible. Non-essential travel restrictions, including public transport, will be granted so that reuniting with those long-distance relatives, whom maybe have not seen each other in a long time, can be made possible.

The Hospitality sector is due to reopen for tiers one and two, following the end of the second lockdown on the 2nd December, which will help to boost the economy and return some normality back to society once more. In addition, the previous curfew of 10pm has been extended, with last call being pushed back to 10 o’clock, and closure of establishments at 11pm. This means that young people who miss going out for an evening are getting a bit of their lives back they enjoyed: “I mean, even though 10pm was ok in some ways, for the benefit of the pandemic, 11pm is much better. It feels like you’re actually getting more of a whole evening’s experience, rather than feeling like its cut short, to an extent”.

Depending on the tier of the local area, you may be able to attend pubs and restaurants. If you are in tier three however, restrictions will be tighter.

With the UK amidst an economic downfall, as well as unemployment rates soaring, it may be that when it comes to the usual spike in spending around the Christmas period, belts may need tightening when it comes to budgeting for gifts, food and entertainment for the festivities. With December being renowned as one of the most expensive months of the year, we may have to cut corners, resorting for more budget-friendly replacements to the usual luxuries that we indulge in over Christmas, like that expensive special bottle of champagne.

Christmas markets and celebrations, such as switching on the Christmas lights ceremonies and carol singing will be open and allowed to continue, to bring high spirits to brits all over the country. This is a special time of year for so many, especially children, so this will be well-deserved moment in time for this year. University students look forward to going home for some well-needed family time after their university deadlines. One student at the University of Portsmouth said: “At one point, me and my friends all thought we weren’t sure if we were even going to be able to go home. We started planning our own Christmas, which would have been nice, but I we haven’t seen our families in a while so it will be lovely to go and catch up on lost time”.

With hopes of a solution at arm’s reach, it is important to remember that this may be a difficult time of year for some. With nearly 60 thousand lives lost to corona virus in the UK, a lot of families may have a space missing from the table if it were not for the pandemic. These people will be remembered and celebrated, so that we can do our best to enjoy the festivities in this hard time. This is a hard pill to swallow, but it reminds us of why we are abiding these lockdown rules, despite the difficulties we are facing as a nation.

In recent times, the discussion of vaccine programs has been announced; upon FDA approval, the ordered vaccines will be distributed to centres, ready to be administered. These plans are due to begin to roll out in a matter of weeks. This has brought high hopes to the nation, but some do not want to get their hopes up too fast: “Personally, I feel like I won’t believe it until I see it more close hand. It’s great that we’re getting closer to the end of the pandemic, but I don’t think the end is in sight just yet”. With these plans hopefully being implemented in the following few weeks, it has been said that we could potentially expect large improvements of the control of the spread of the virus by springtime. This premise has left people with high hopes of the future. More will be known in the weeks to come, but this is an exciting piece of news to be discussed around the table.

With all things considered, the world has gone through some tough and trying times throughout 2020. With the year gliding to a close and new beginnings to start post-pandemic, we may feel like celebrating and letting loose this Christmas, but it is important that we still exercise caution and not relax our precautions too much, so that lives are no longer being lost to this virus and we can rejoice in overcoming this global crisis, as soon as humanely possible.

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