Coronavirus: How Christmas Could Be Different This Year


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Bah idiot! Is Christmas really going to be canceled?

That was the question on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson established a new “rule of six” in England, limiting gatherings to a maximum of six people from Monday.

Scotland later announced it was following suit. Wales and Northern Ireland have also tightened restrictions.

Mr Johnson said it was “too early to tell” if big parties could be thrown at Christmas. And when asked if families could celebrate together over the winter break, Health Secretary Matt Hancock replied, “Not necessarily.”

So if the latest restrictions remain in place, how could Christmas be any different this year?

1. The big day – and the big dinner

Under the new guidelines, there will be a limit of six people from multiple households at social gatherings in England and six people from two households in Scotland. There are a few exceptions, but a family of five, for example, might end up with a tricky decision: do we invite grandma or grandpa?

Either way, the rules mean there will be fewer seats at the table for the all-important Christmas dinner – although there might be more turkey to go.

But then it is a guessing game for turkey farmers. Nick and Maria Davis, from Usk Vale Poultry in South Wales, normally raise 70,000 turkeys for Christmas, but have reduced by around 20% for 2020 due to uncertainty.

“Preparing for Christmas is going to be a nightmare,” Nick said, adding, “It’s no fun for a turkey farmer at the best of times, but this year we’re really on hot coals – it’s a lucky turkey farmer who gets that Christmas fair rather than smart. ”

2. The Christmas “doing”

Annual office Christmas parties, Boxing Day turkey curry buffets, and pre-Christmas dinners with friends will also be subject to the “rule of six” – both in private homes and places of business. ‘Home.

Sites that meet Covid-secure government guidelines will be allowed to accommodate more than six people in total, but no one should visit in a group of more than six.

So these will be strict guest lists only for Christmas 2020. Of course, not everyone will be disappointed by the thought of being left out of Christmas work…

Another pre-Christmas staple, for parents of young children at least, is the school nursery. They could be on the calendar in England, provided that the events can be organized according to the government’s rules for the performing arts.

3. Christmas Eve at the pub

The annual Christmas Eve trip to the pub to reunite with old friends and family is also at stake.

Industry experts have warned of declining levels of trade in pubs after the latest restrictions, so it seems unlikely that large crowds will spill out of the local pub, as they usually do during the holiday season.

Pubs will continue to implement guidelines “to ensure their customers can safely enjoy the unique and warm atmosphere that only a pub can offer,” said Emma McClarkin, Managing Director of the British Beer and Pub Association.

But “inevitably the announcement [on Wednesday] will cool the confidence of the public to visit the pub, which will reach bargaining levels.

4. Midnight mass

Elsewhere, places of worship can remain open – but with a limit of six people in attendance per group, under new guidelines for England. There are also exceptions for places of worship in Scotland.

This means that Midnight Mass, Christmas Day Mass and Christingle Services should be able to take place, but without the congregation singing.

In service, current rules state that people should avoid any social interaction with anyone outside of the group they are part of, even if they see other people they know.

“I welcome the confirmation from the Prime Minister that the places of worship can still accommodate more than six people in total,” said Bishop of London Sarah Mullally.

“We will continue to work with the government on specific areas related to our churches and the activities of our church. “

5. Pantomimes

Sadly, that might be more of a case of “oh no, it’s not” when it comes to the Christmas panto this year.

Persistent uncertainty over when theaters can fully reopen to the public has already prompted many theaters and production companies to cancel their 2020 shows.

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Luke Varley / Churchill Bromley Theater

People are allowed to attend indoor and outdoor performances in England, but theaters are still subject to social distancing guidelines. Theaters have yet to reopen in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Richard Hughes, managing director of the Awen Cultural Trust, which operates venues in Wales, including the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl, said that while it was a “sad time” for the theater, “we understand why this has to happen ”.

“In the future, it is the uncertainty that is difficult to manage. There is still no light at the end of the tunnel on when the theaters could return, let alone return without social distancing.

6. Shopping

Coronavirus restrictions will change the way we do our Christmas shopping. In short, there will surely be more clicks and less costs in stores this year.

“It will be a very digital Christmas,” said Natalie Berg, retail analyst at NBK Retail. She said how, when and what people would buy this year would be “fundamentally different”.

Retailers like Amazon would continue to “pick up” the trade this Christmas, she said. Their biggest challenge would be to ensure that they have sufficient capacity to respond to the “tsunami” of online orders.

When it comes to in-store purchases, the general expectation is that footfall will decline year on year, she said. But when buyers go out, they “definitely spend”.

“Consumer demands have not disappeared, they have just changed. Skipping the turkey but splashing around on Christmas decorations for the house would be a very 2020 thing to do. “

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7. New Years Eve

And, after all the Christmas cheer, what about New Years Eve?

Well, some events have already been affected by the restrictions. Tickets for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party were withdrawn from sale in July as organizers said the event could not go in the usual way.

But parties in homes and places could still be enjoyed – but only in groups of six, if restrictions were still in place in England and Scotland.


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