Yes, I know. You’re bored of hearing about it – I am too, but now more than ever we need to ensure that everyone is able to find a way to feel happy, joyous, and in good spirits. I am, of course, talking about the impacts of Covid-19 on our planned Christmas festivities. The past week has been tough – we’ve seen festive plans cancelled for many at almost no notice, tougher restrictions put in place, and it all seems to feel like there’s far more negativity being circulated than positivity, so we’re looking to put a stop to that. Christmas is here and it’s time to be cheerful, so here are our top tips for keeping your spirits high over this year’s odd Covid Christmas.
What are the Covid restrictions in each tier over Christmas?
That’s the question that is on everybody’s lips. For many regions, such as us here in Manchester, restrictions have been the same for quite some time now – we’re under tier 3 restrictions, which means there are no restaurants, pubs, live events, and very limited mixing between households. For obvious reasons, this is likely to put quite a strain on what we can do over the festive period. We are however being given a grace period to widen our ability to meet with other households to ensure that we can celebrate properly, but this has been reduced from the original five days down to just one day: Christmas day. This has made Christmas planning even more chaotic than it already was, with many people having to now rearrange plans, or even cancel plans, due to the change in guidelines.
The most important thing to remember is that the rules are in place to keep us safe and, despite how crushing it may be to be restricted from seeing much of your family over Christmas, it will be a good step in the right direction when it comes to beating the virus. Just to keep you up to speed, here are the current guidelines for each tier in the UK:
If you’re from a tier 1 area, this means that you are currently at a medium alert level – this is currently the lowest level that UK residents can be in, with these areas at the lowest risk of rapid case increases. In these areas, you’ll be allowed to see up to 6 people indoors and outdoors, but should try to maintain social distancing wherever possible. There are no travel restrictions for those in tier 1 areas, however, should you travel to a tier higher than your own, you will need to follow the guidelines in place in these areas. All shops can be opened in tier 1 zones, including bars, restaurants, and other hospitality venues.
The next tier is tier 2, where slightly stricter regulations are in place due to the higher number of cases and the potential for rapid spreading. When it comes to meeting other people, you can meet outside with groups of up to 6, or indoors with people from your household and support bubble. You should limit your travel to only essential movement, but travel is still warranted for those who wish to do so. You should avoid travelling to tier 3 zones if at all possible to minimise your risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Pubs and restaurants will be open should they be able to serve a substantial meal with your drinks (bring on the scotch eggs), and will be table service only if that they are open.
Again, this tier has stricter guidelines than the last tier as case numbers are higher and the threat of a rapid spread is high. If you’re living in a tier 3 area, you should only meet with people from your household, whether this is indoors or outdoors. You will not be able to invite other people to your home unless they are a part of your support bubble. You are advised to minimise your travel, especially any travel that involves mong to an area with a different tier rating that your own. All pubs, bars, restaurants, and hospitality venues are closed in these areas, however, shops remain open with social distancing guidelines in place. Despite these restrictions, you will have a 1-day grace period on Christmas day to meet with family – you’ll be able to meet up with 2 other households for this one day.
This is the strictest level of restrictions currently in place in the UK. In these areas, household mixing is strictly prohibited outside of your support bubble and household. You will be allowed to meet one other person in an outdoor environment, but social distancing must be adhered to at all times. You should only travel in essential situations and you must not leave your area during this time. This is to keep the spread of the virus as contained as possible. All hospitality venues will remain closed. Unfortunately, households in tier 4 will not be allowed to form a Christmas bubble and will be required to celebrate the festive period with those at their household.
What can you do to keep spirits up?
Whilst this tier system does paint a fairly bleak picture, there are a few things that you can do to keep everyone feeling happy and excited for Christmas despite the restrictions. Video calls are likely to become second nature to you at this point and are a fantastic way to help keep families connected even if they can’t be in the same household as one another. By using video calls, you are able to see, chat, and engage with family and friends who need it, which is a huge gift for those who are feeling isolated and alone due to the guidelines.
The important thing to do this Christmas is to not let the situation get you down – yes it’s rubbish and yes we wish we were able to see our loved ones, but these restrictions will pass and we will be able to see them sometime in the future. So, have fun, celebrate with those that you can mix with, and let’s see out this terrible year (which did have its occasional highlights) in the best way possible, with copious amounts of food, drinks, presents, and joy. After all, it is Christmas and there are no rules against enjoying ourselves, so get the beers in, get the board games out, the Christmas songs blaring, and have yourself the festive party that you deserve after this tough, tough year!
From all of the team here at Embryo, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!