The tier system was officially released, following the lockdown 2.0, for the winter period last night, with Christmas restrictions also being discussed. In terms of Christmas, it seems that tier restrictions will be temporarily relaxed for five days between the 23rd and 27th December, so families and friends can enjoy Christmas festivities together. However, some restrictions do stand in place as these gatherings can be no more than three different households. For the rest of this month, cities must stick to their given tier restrictions, measures will be reviewed in two weeks’ time.
In Scotland, Christmas bubbles are limited to 8 people, children under 12 will not count towards this. As stated on the BBC News (26th November 2020), the government’s public health recommendations for over these upcoming weeks are to track case detection rates, particularly for over 60s, monitor how quickly cases rise or fall, positive tests in the general population, handling the pressure on the NHS, and local context, such as handling a local but contained outbreak. It is apparent that pubs, restaurants, and other businesses of the hospitality sector will need ‘substantial financial support’ according to Ashworth (BBC News, 26th November 2020).
This is usually an exciting time of year, however, this year we are all dreading to see how Christmas and its follow up will turn out this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has already written the year off. In BBC News’ report from yesterday, Ashworth states that for the hospitality sector, Christmas is a vital period, and they will need “substantial financial support”, especially those cities who are in tier 3. He also questions whether those cities who were under tier 3 restrictions before the second national lockdown will now get backdated economic support for their small business (BBC News, 26th November 2020).
For the next few weeks, Greater Manchester is under tier 3 restrictions, Liverpool is under tier 2 (moving down from tier 3 before the lockdown), and more secluded areas such as the Isle of Wight and Cornwall are under tier 1 rules. This means that certain cities are bound to suffer greater financially than others. Finally, Ashworth stated that some parts of the UK have been under some form of lockdown for many months now, and families will want to know what the exit strategy will be (BBC News, 26th November 2020).
However, Scientists have voiced their concerns, such as Professor Andrew Hayward, who expressed in the BBC’s article that the relaxation of restrictions at Christmas is “throwing fuel on the Covid fire”. He stated that it is likely to lead to a third wave of the virus, with “hospitals being overrun and more unnecessary deaths…why risk getting infected and infecting others over the holidays? Delaying by a few months is perfectly rational given solutions within sight in the spring”. (BBC News, 26th November 2020). There now lies fear of us ‘paying for’ Christmas with lockdowns next year. Some question whether it is worth introducing Christmas restrictions so soon as the vaccine is so close to being released. However, on a lighter note, a small lift of restrictions is just what we will need at the end of this crazy year.
On the whole, there is no doubt that there must be financial support in place for the hospitality sector and other sectors who have been affected by lockdown and tier restrictions, especially those who are in tier 3 areas. A review in two weeks’ time may change these rules for some cities altogether, and hopefully for the better. With a bit of luck, lets hope the vaccine will make its appearance in the next few weeks and ultimately save Christmas. As Hancock expressed in BBC News’ article yesterday, although there is “no quick fix”, “the end is in sight”. However, we must not forget the important thing over the festive period, to continue to practice Covid-19 guidelines for the safety of ourselves and others.