British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that lockdown would effectively end on the 2nd of December; this means that non-essential shops, gyms and salons are reopening for the weeks coming up to Christmas. Under the new set of restrictions, the UK has seen bar and restaurant curfews extended to 11pm and permitted collective worship, weddings and collective outdoor sports, subject to social distancing. The previous ‘rule of six’ has resumed and aims to effectively allow people to interact with more than just one other person at a time (Sky News, 2020).
The latest regulations surrounding COVID-19 in the UK intend to give the British population the opportunity to experience Christmas festivities with their loved ones. The PM did warn however that “Christmas cannot be normal”, but that the recent developments in vaccine testing give us reason to believe that the country has “turned a corner and the escape route is in sight”(Boris Johnson, Parliament, 2020).
Boris Johnson revealed a 56-page COVID Winter Plan to combat the virus in the coming months; the revised three tier system is a tougher, more restrictive version of the previous system. People in the first Tier will be strongly advised to work from home where possible; in Tier 2, businesses in the hospitality sector will be forced to close unless they serve substantial meals with alcoholic drinks. Lastly, Tier 3 areas will be subjected to a closure of all pubs, bars and restaurants save for delivery, take-away and drive-through services. While tier allocations have been announced, they will be up for review every two weeks (Sky News, 2020).
Management of the virus is proving to be a precarious balance of risk and reward: weighing up the risks of isolation, a wounded economy, a high R number and end-of-year exhaustion, the benefits of a less restrictive Christmas do stack up (Wired, 2020). On the other hand, there is widespread concern that ending lockdown just before Christmas could cost the population many more months of isolation and economic downturn. Trading off long-term well-being for immediate gratification might not be the wisest of decisions (The Guardian, 2020). However, Boris Johnson’s Winter Plan does take into consideration all of the upcoming end-of-year challenges and finds compromise in the form of a lockdown (but not restriction)-free Christmas; one can only hope that everyone views the new regulations as such and does their part to comply.