A COVID Christmas

Christmas is usually a time of relaxation and getting together with loved ones. Even though the government originally tried to offer relaxed restrictions in order for us to have a more ‘normal’ Christmas, it wasn’t meant to be and the festive period won’t be the same. Without the usual build up to Christmas people are making the most of it, by putting up their Christmas decorations early and embracing the festivities in alternative ways. No Christmas markets this year, no Christmas parties, or spontaneous trips to the pub and no visiting Santa. We’ve all had to adapt to the changes which COVID has enforced upon us.

During the first and second lockdown’s the hospitality industry particularly took a hard hit. With a large proportion of the country finding themselves in tier 3 when emerging from lockdown, at a time when pubs, bars and restaurants should be bustling with people, many had closed their doors, uncertain of when they could reopen again. A huge amount of their income is usually generated in the run up to Christmas and this has been significantly impacted. The usual stroll around the Christmas markets followed by a trip to the local pub will not be happening for the majority of us this year. We have to hope that these businesses survive these trying times. 

So instead of the usual Christmas parties and traditions in the run up to Christmas we have all adapted to suit the restrictions. You only had to take to Social Media back in November to see the amount of people who decide that Christmas should come early in order to focus on something positive. Seeing people’s decorations definitely brightened up Social Media, rather than focusing on the virus.

Of course, it’s not only the hospitality industry who have felt the impact of lockdown. The retail industry is finding it hard to survive with the likes of big brand names such as Arcadia group going into administration. Our usual Christmas shopping trips were put to a stop and we turned to online shopping to get our gifts. The government of course decided that they needed to assist these businesses and decided to get them reopened following the second national lockdown, but it could be too late for some. We need to try and support small local businesses as much as possible over the coming months. 

Despite the government’s best efforts to try and save the economy and support employers and employees with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), so many people have been made redundant this year and have found it hard to get back into work due to the increasing rate of unemployment. Christmas will not be the same for any of us, especially those who have lost their jobs and who are experiencing financial difficulty. 

This year Coronavirus has definitely put everything into perspective. Things which we took for granted on a daily basis, such as a hug from your loved ones couldn’t be more precious to us now. 

Now with the introduction of tier 4 measures for London, the South East and East of England, a huge proportion of the UK have had to change their Christmas plans completely. No longer being able to get together with other households and non-essential shops being forced to close. For all the other tiers the original 5 day relaxation period has now been reduced to one day and we are now only able to meet 1 other household rather than 3. This year will definitely be a Christmas we will never forget! 

Some of us are worried about vulnerable relatives and even though the thought of spending Christmas without them is unbearable, is it really worth the risk to their health, for that 1 day? It’s a hard decision to make, whether you spend time without them on Christmas day or take the risk, it’s a question most of us are having to face. With the added pressure of having to make a decision on which household you choose to form your Christmas bubble with, it’s sure to cause upset for many of us. Others are just happy to be getting that precious time back with friends and family, if only just for a day, especially people living alone who have felt so isolated.

The impact on everyone’s mental health has been overwhelming, especially for those who suffered with mental health conditions beforehand, but we all need to focus on the positives which have come out of the situation, like the strength of communities pulling together to support each other. We should all be proud of the human race and of how well we have all dealt with the unknown and now is the time to focus on the future, things can only get better! 

Wherever you decide to celebrate Christmas and whoever with, we hope you have a lovely Christmas! Here’s to a New Year, a fresh start and hopefully a year where we can say goodbye to lockdown (eventually!)

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