If you’re planning to see your extended family over the holidays, it’ll need to be on Christmas Day.
Alongside today’s government press conference, which saw London, the South East, and the East of England move to Tier 4, we were also told about a change in the rules for Christmas gatherings. Instead of being allowed to gather as three households for five days (from December 23-27, as originally planned), we’ll now only be allowed to meet up as an extended household on Christmas Day.
Despite declaring only three days ago that Christmas gatherings would proceed as planned, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been forced to change the rules, with the rapid spread of a new variant of coronavirus driving fears of increased caseloads and hospitalisations. Johnson stated that “we cannot continue with Christmas as planned”, asking English residents to “stay local” for Christmas and minimise our contact with other households. When questioned on the abrupt change to the Christmas measures, the Prime Minister said that “when the virus changes its method of attack, we have to change our method of defence”.
As we found out on Thursday, Bristol has been moved down to Tier 2 restrictions as of today (Saturday, December 19) – the next update to the tier system is not planned until December 30. The change to the Christmas rules is a huge blow to those of us hoping to reunite with family members over the festive season, but as the rising cases in the south of England prove, the virus is still in wide circulation. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that the vaccine will make Christmas 2021 (and sooner) a hell of a lot more enjoyable…