New rules banning gatherings of more than six people are set to come into force from September 14, with Chris Whitty warning that the rules won’t be changing in the next few weeks – which could potentially impact those festive family get-togethers and parties.
Although Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he ‘hopes’ they can turn things around before Christmas, Dr Hilary Jones has warned that this year’s festive season will ‘not happen unless we change what we are doing’. So could Christmas really be cancelled courtesy of Covid this year – and just how much of an impact will the virus have on the festivities?
Like most of the other festivals which have taken place in the shadow of the pandemic – including Ramadan, Eid and Passover – Christmas will of course happen on December 25 this year as usual. And while Covid might not stop you from putting up your tree, tucking into your turkey dinner, watching those festive movies or listening to Merry Christmas Everybody on a never-ending loop, there are other aspects of the festive season which will almost certainly feel the impact. Here’s what a Covid-19 Christmas might look like this year.
As it stands your Christmas shopping should go ahead as planned unless non-essential retail is forced to close once again – but don’t forget your face covering and be prepared to socially distance from other shoppers. Ordering online this year could be the best alternative to ensure your Christmas is sorted.
When it comes to your your Christmas cards – Royal Mail told metro.co.uk it’s ‘too early to speculate’ over whether or not deliveries could be impacted by the pandemic. So our advice would be to get your cards and gifts sent out as early as possible to ensure nobody misses out on your Christmas cheer.
Festive celebrations in December are as big a part of Christmas as the big day itself – but these are likely to be under threat this year unless the rules on gatherings of more than six people are lifted before the festive season rolls around. On the one hand, this may save many people the embarrassment of having one too many at the office shindig and insulting their boss in eminently sackable fashion – but it’s also a potential disaster for the hospitality industry with no big festive parties or nights out to throw.
Kobir Ahmed from Indian restaurant Prana told metro.co.uk: ‘Work and office parties for sure are now cancelled especially with the announcement of the recent six people rule. ‘Christmas for hospitality is the most important part of the year and any chance of recovery or green shoots of recovery are now washed away. With rules ever changing it will be hard to plan for Christmas as we don’t know what things will be like.’
Beke Igwe, who runs Beke’s Caterers, added: ‘Usually for Christmas we have around 10-15 parties, but the ones that we have booked have been moved due to the change in numbers. With that in mind, people are not keen to have parties – people are still working from home, so the whole Covid situation is affecting the catering business badly. ‘Mostly, we are not taking bookings, however we have started doing delivery. Right now, my diary is completely empty as I have had to move everything, so unless things change, which is unlikely, it will stay that way.’ Of course gatherings of six people will still be allowed – and it’s just possible you’ll have to celebrate in a lower-key fashion this year – but there could also be a rise in ‘virtual’ Christmas get-togethers, as people once again turn to Zoom and other apps which kept them connected during lockdown.