Is Christmas cancelled this year following the latest restrictions?

It’s the big question that none of us want to ask, but desperately want to know.

It is exactly 94 days until Christmas Day and the way things currently stand, it’s not looking great for a ‘normal’ festive season.

Earlier this afternoon (September 22), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new string of measures aimed to tackle the surge of coronavirus cases in the UK.

We are now facing the prospect of Covid-19 restrictions being in place for the next six months.

The rule of six is already firmly in place with a hefty fine attached, before pubs and restaurants were today given a strict 10pm curfew and weddings were reduced to 15 guests.

Earlier, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson warned we face a “challenging winter period”, with more stringent restrictions expected to last for the next few weeks and months.

So where does that leave Christmas?

It’s safe to say that nothing about Christmas 2020 is going to be normal.

Office work do’s, wild Christmas pub crawls and numerous stop-offs at relatives’ houses will be completely out of the question.

The way we shop, prepare for and celebrate the big day could be completely different, and in some ways it’s anyone’s guess – but there are a few things which are certain.

This is what Christmas this year could look like.

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The rule of six

Chances are your friendship or family circle extends to more than six people.

Last week, Boris Johnson announced that groups or meetings of more than six people in England would be banned – both indoors and outdoors.

If this rule remains in place across the next six months, or indeed becomes stricter, then our Christmas celebrations will look very different.

If you are inviting family or friends over for the big day, you will be limited to six or less.

The same goes for any festive meet-ups planned which may put you in the sticky situation of picking out who makes the cut.

Christmas parties

Christmas parties will be capped at six people
(Image: monkeybusinessimages)

 

There is possibly nothing more exciting than the prospect of a Christmas party after a long and tiring year of work.

However, unless your Christmas parties were already frightfully dull anyway, they will not be quite as wild as you may have hoped.

For those of you who work in big offices, you won’t be able to all meet as one, given the rule of six.

And even when you do meet, there are those two very special words that have become ingrained in our way of life – social distancing.

Unfortunately, that also means a kiss under the mistletoe with a good-looking stranger is definitely off the cards this year.

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Visiting all the family

Each year as the month of December rolls around, the trips to relatives and loved ones are booked in for the weekends and evenings.

Usually, many of us would visit elderly relatives, aunts and uncles, godparents and friends to drop off cards, tins of chocolates or homemade cookies from the kids.

If the rules tighten, or even if a second lockdown was announced, this will be banned.

However as they stand, the rule of six will keep tabs on who is allowed to visit who.

The 1m plus rule may spare you from some of those awkward do-we-don’t-we hug/kiss/shake hands moments.

Boozy Christmas Eve

Staff wearing a shielding face mask in a pub
(Image: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

 

For many, it is a long-held tradition that Christmas Eve is for getting very merry with friends in the pub.

Rather than stumbling in at 1am, you could be tucked up in bed not long past 10pm given the enforced curfew.

The rule of six will put a stamp on how many people can attend your Christmas Eve outing.

Generally, festive pub crawls traipsing across the city are unlikely, and frankly unadvisable.

Given you generally need to book in advance anywhere, especially as it’s Christmas, in addition to the track and trace system, would make pub crawling a pretty onerous task.

Driving home for Christmas

Unlike Chris Rea’s beloved Christmas song, most of us will be working from home.

Today, Boris Johnson encouraged those able to work from home to do so to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Signing off from your last shift before the big day won’t be quite the same as before when you are already sat on your sofa or at your make-shift desk at home.

Driving anywhere may be a novelty come December.

Shopping for presents

We must all wear masks while shopping, unless exempt

 

Love it or loathe it, shopping at Christmas is an essential task.

When it comes to present-buying, many will opt for online shopping to avoid heading into shops and stores.

In some areas, it may be that the demand for shoppers isn’t the same – where redundancies and pay cuts have left many workers extremely stripped for cash.

Understandably, Christmas will not be able to be an extravagant affair for many who have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Stockpiling

People panic bought at the start of of the pandemic
(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

 

On the other hand, shopping in the supermarkets could be quite the opposite.

While we all hope that stockpiling will not make a return, it wouldn’t be completely mad to wonder if some irresponsible shoppers will consider doing so.

The festive period often sees empty shelves near to the big day as families and friends stock up on excess food and drink, so add in Covid-19 restrictions potentially tightening and it is a concern.

Midnight Mass and Christingle

Events like Midnight Mass, Christmas Day Mass and Christingle services should be able to go ahead, but they too will likely look different.

Perhaps the thing that will be felt most will be the lack of singing.

Under the current guidelines, people should avoid singing, shouting and raising voices because of increased risk of transmision.

They should be avoided by congregations, meaning those nostalgic and memorable songs that ring through the church will not be the same this year.

Pantomimes

Another family favourite, the Christmas panto.

There remains uncertainty around theatres reopening and many have already cancelled their shows this year.

People are allowed to attend indoor and outdoor performances in England but they must follow social distancing guidelines.

The Christmas Spirit

In essence, Christmas should be a time of joy and celebration. A time to sit back and relax with family, treat one another and be grateful for those you have around you.

While it’s easy to joke that a kiss under the mistletoe is off the cards, there is no denial that this Christmas will be unmistakably difficult for many.

As of yesterday (September 21), we have lost over 41,000 people to this virus.

Those lives lost are nothing short of devastating, and may be felt hardest during months usually spent with loved ones.

Christmas is often already a difficult time for some, who feel the pain of losing a loved one more than ever, or the weight of loneliness, but with the added government restrictions that could be even harder.

Essex Live