As the Christmas season begins the public wonder if they will be able to have a normal festive period of family gatherings and Christmas parties amid controversy of government officials breaking the rules they put in place last year and the new omicron variant.
The UK is in a very different position than it was this time last year. The country was in a tiered system meaning some were left in full lockdown. In order to see family and friends you had to form a bubble and there were limits on how many people you could have in your home. Although these procedures are no longer in place, there is concern about what this means for our safety this year.
Boris Johnson said: People shouldn’t be cancelling things, there’s no need for that at all, that’s not what we’re saying.’
However, as the Omicron variant has been identified in the country and seems to be spreading quickly, its questionable if its safe to have a totally normal Christmas. This is especially because in South Africa a higher proportion of younger people are falling ill – many however being unvaccinated or having one dose.
At the end of November, the mask mandate was reintroduced to try to lessen the spreading of the new variant. This means that again in schools, shops and restaurants people must wear a mask or could face fines and police attention. This begs the question of if Christmas will be able to be like before.
Yet this week it was revealed by the Daily Mail that last year on the 18th of December during the tough restrictions there was a No.10 Christmas party. These events were banned, and many people had to miss out on similar things due to government advice. This has left many people frustrated at the government for not following the rules they put in place.
It has been speculated that on the 17th of December Boris Johnson will review current rules and decide on if social gatherings are allowed to go ahead.
Hope has been given by Sajid Javid when he said: ’If you are invited to a Christmas party, there’s quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT test before you go. Go to the party, but just be cautious.’
Considering vulnerable people and just generally keeping safe, many have opted for safer Christmas activities like outdoor festivals and markets. This makes it a lot easier to observe social distancing and make personal decisions about your safety.
These events are also great for small businesses and a way to socialise responsibly.
So, although Christmas may not be totally back to normal, its likely the rules will be much more relaxed and the public will be able to gather with family and friends in some way.