The covid rules for Christmas have been announced - up to three households can meet indoors during a five-day Christmas period of 23-27 December across the UK.
Before any covid rules for Christmas have even been outlined, social media had already split into two camps - those who want to have a few days off lockdown and tier rules, and those who very strongly don't.
In his two statements (to the Commons and a nationwide press conference) yesterday, Boris Johnson trod a fine line, hinting at the idea of specific covid rules for Christmas - but making it clear that, with a vaccine in sight, now was not the time to risk it all for a turkey dinner.
He said: 'I can’t say Christmas will be normal this year, but in a period of adversity, time with our loved ones is even more precious for people of all faiths and none.
'What we don’t want it to throw caution to the wind and allow the virus to flare up again, forcing us all into lockdown again in January.'
Of course, no-one wants a lockdown three. And no-one wants a January lockdown - the worst possible month of all lockdowns. And no-one wants anyone to die from this awful virus.
But, Mr Johnson did say, he was working on a 'special, time-limited dispensation across the whole of the UK' - and now it's been announced. The covid rules for Christmas are that up to three households can meet indoors during a five-day Christmas period of 23-27 December.
For once, just once, I find myself, personally, in a similar thought-trap to Mr Johnson - I have to admit that when it comes to Christmas, I just don't know what to think - even if I probably know what is right. And, yes, even in these black and white days, I think it's ok to feel a little of both sides. To understand the desire to want to see family (and it should be said friends too) after such a long, miserable year mostly divided. But to also know the real and devastating cost that any movements you make could have on strangers and those you love.
Maybe it's because of my on-the-fenceness, that I've noticed a really strong stance emerging on Twitter. One that says that no matter what Boris Johnson says about the covid rules for Christmas, they'll be staying at home, and isolating best they can. That's fine, but I've started to also notice a more pious, even snobby pattern emerging, where the inference is that if you don't feel exactly the same as them you're 'stupid' 'reckless' 'childish' 'basic' and even practically murderous.
Of course social media is a place where people are invited to give their opinion - but does the nastiness and divisiveness always have to come? No matter what hurdle in the road we come to in the country, we divide and throw ire at each other. Gammons! Remoaners! etc etc. Does what someone wants to do for Christmas really also have to be sucked down the same wormhole?
Nobody knows what anyone has really gone through this year - even for those closest to them, definitely not a casual acquaintance or follower on Twitter. There are those who live alone, those who might fear it's their last Christmas with a family member, those who have suffered badly and had Christmas in mind as a light at the end of their personal dark tunnel. It's not fair to categorise those who are hoping for time with family this year as anything, other than that. When those people veer into conspiracy, anti-vax and anti-mask, I draw a line. But many are just juggling the information and their wants the best they can. They're not being malicious, or stupid.
In the same way those privileged to be in nice big homes, or living with partners and family might find it easy to dismiss what all the 'fuss' is about Christmas, those likely to land in Tiers 1 and 2 will find the conversation simpler, able to enjoy company in groups of six in various circumstances. Some areas of the country (and with various circumstances) have basically been in lockdown since March.
Underlying it all is also the same old 'basic' debate - if you care about Christmas you're childish, basic, unrefined, that's what I'm reading between the lines too behind the 'Grow up, it's just a DAY' comments... it's just another line of snobbery in the snow.
I'm not saying those who think Christmas bubbles are a bad idea are wrong - far from it, the science, data, government incompetence thus far and pretty much everything backs up what they have to say. Just maybe rely on that if you want to petition the government not to change the rules or persuade followers to take caution making their personal plans for Christmas Day - don't resort, lazily, to catty comments. It's just not the spirit of the season, if nothing else.
What are the Covid Christmas rules in the UK?
The BBC says up to three households can meet indoors during a five-day Christmas period of 23-27 December, if they form a Christmas bubble, after leaders of the four UK nations have agreed the covid rules for Christmas.
What are the Christmas bubble rules?
Like with other social bubbles, people will only be able to form and stay in one Christmas bubble over the festive period. You can't mix and match your bubbles, and the government advises that you aim to keep your bubble as small as possible.
The Government website states: 'Everyone is allowed to form a Christmas bubble. There are three main rules:
'You can only be in one Christmas bubble, 'you cannot change your Christmas bubble, your Christmas bubble should not include people from more than three households, it is important that you keep your Christmas bubble as small as possible. You must not form a Christmas bubble if you are self-isolating.'
The Government advice also states that those who have already formed a support bubble with one other household can be considered part of that household (and so can bubble with two other households). However, you cannot socialise with your childcare bubble unless they form part of your Christmas bubble.
Why are we so worried about what the covid rules for Christmas will be?
Counselling Directory member Philip Karahassan says there’s lots of reasons that yearning for Christmas and wondering about what Christmas 2020 will look like has stepped up earlier than usual this year.
‘Christmas has always been seen as a time to feel comfortable, in control, and when you can relax and forget about your worries for a moment,’ he said.
‘With everyone on high alert due to COVID-19, it isn’t surprising that people are wanting to turn away from the stresses they are feeling. It can feel like your liberty has been taken away from you, and something that I am seeing is that people are feeling very stifled and frustrated with their current situation.
'We all want something to look forward to. Let’s also not forget that for many we have had to cancel our holiday plans, and holidays are equally as important a time for us to relax and unwind.
'What everyone is looking for is a sense of relief, and without a holiday, Christmas is the next best thing. Christmas is far enough away for us to push hope onto that time of year. The idea is that by then, everything will be back to normal and all of the mess of 2020 will be behind us.
'We can hope and dream that there will be a vaccine, coronavirus will be under control, our jobs will be safe and we can get back to our old ways of life.
'Christmas can be used as an emotional anchor to relieve the stress of our current situation and allow us to feel freed from current restrictions.'
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