The nationwide lockdown is set to come to an end on the second of December – just in time for Christmas. Despite this, there are likely to be significant restrictions still in place across the country, with limits on the number of people who can gather in the same place still in force, and a tiered system which places more draconian restrictions on parts of the country where the virus is still widespread.
During a press conference early in November, Boris Johnson promised that a relatively normal Christmas could be possible provided that everyone follows the rules – which is just about as cloudy and vague as promises get.
So what’s Christmas likely to look like this year? There are a few things we can be reasonably sure of.
Rule of Six
The cap on gatherings has spelled doom for office Christmas parties, Christmas markets and gathering the extended family around the dinner table. In fact, if your household contains two adults and four children, you won’t be allowed to have anyone over at all. If you’re having friends over who aren’t a part of your support bubble, then hugging, close contact and kissing under the mistletoe are all out.
For large swathes of the economy, Christmas is a critical time. This year, shopping data indicates that customers are making their purchases earlier, and reigning in their spending slightly. A larger portion of Christmas shopping than ever is being done online, which follows a broader trend in customer behaviour that’s played out over the entire year. Whether you’re looking for a gift for him or a gift for her, you’ll find it online.
Many will see their Christmas shopping as a way to support their local retailers in the community, who’ve had to endure a torrid year. Vouchers for ‘experiences’ will help to support spas, leisure centres and other activity-based businesses until they can open their doors once again.
Some of the little things that let us know it’s Christmas-time are likely to receive greater attention. Home-made mince pies fill the entire house with the smell of the season, and Christmas movies might become a fixture in the evenings. With more time available to devote to these activities, it’s less likely that they’ll be neglected.
Communal singing is on the list of frowned-upon activities, which jeopardises door-to-door carol singing. It’s likely that numbers will be curtailed in churches, and that traditional activities like nativity plays may be forced to take place via videoconferencing platforms like Zoom.
What about a Vaccine?
Of course, the Christmas present that everyone really wants is for this Covid-19 situation to go away entirely. Vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer have already given us cause for optimism – and it’s possible that a UK-based one developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca could be with us before the end of the year. That’d cheer everyone up!