Imagine this: You’re planning for Christmas, maybe last-minute shopping for presents or ordering the turkey. You’ve planned to meet with some family over the next couple of days (not too many because of COVID) but just enough for a fun celebration. Then, you look at your phone and see a news update with the headline “Tier 4”. Thoughts are running through your head, you may chuckle that the BBC made a typo, writing “3” instead of “4”. You may even do a double-take. But no, as you are reading this article now and have seen the current news, you’ll realise that this is a real event.
You may be thinking “what can I do for Christmas now??”. You might even cry “Christmas is canceled!”
Do not worry, even though this is the opposite of an ideal Christmas, The Print is going to help you make this Xmas as great as it can be despite the current circumstances.
The current tightening of restrictions has been due to the cases, deaths, and rise in the “r” number (reproduction number of the virus). London’s R number is about 1.1-1.3, something that should be under 1. The cases have shot up to around 35,000 on the 20th of December, with the deaths being more than 300. This is a large cause for concern, and as the NHS is struggling to cope, this is why we have moved into stronger measures.
First, let’s talk about the tiers.
Tier 4 is the “Stay at home tier”
Areas in tier 4 include London, and all its 32 boroughs plus the City of London. Areas of the South East including Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Kent, Berkshire, Hastings, and Portsmouth. Additionally, areas in the East include Hertfordshire, Essex, Central Bedfordshire, Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, and Peterborough. Overall, this means that: you should stay at home (unless you have a “reasonable excuse” e.g. work/education), ALL non-essential retail will close, and gyms and indoor sports areas close.
Christmas + meeting people rules: you can’t join Christmas Day bubbles with anyone in tiers 1-3, and you can’t meet with anyone indoors who you don’t live with/who’s not in your bubble.
What you can do: meet with one person from another household in an open public space, buy from shops that are still open, carry on with your support bubbles, attend outdoor playgrounds, sports courts, and golf courses.
For those of you who have traveled back home, you will be aware of your new regulations and rules. To sum them up for Christmas they are: For all tiers not in tier 4, you are able to see a maximum of 2 households on Christmas Day. You are only able to see anyone not from a tier 4 area. However, be very careful and aware of the risks involved, and please be extremely cautious if meeting with someone elderly or who is vulnerable.
If you are stuck in tier 4 for Christmas, or in the other tiers and you would like some holiday ideas, then here you go:
If there’s a friend you haven’t seen in a while/someone you like spending time with, call them up and go for a fun walk in the park/around your area. Especially in London, all of the usually packed streets will be super empty. Cafes like Pret are still open for takeaway, so go with a friend to grab some coffee, go for a walk, sightsee, and even take a lime bike around the empty streets! Food takeaways such as UberEats are still available, so if you find a nice park on a sunny day, order some food to the park and have a winter picnic (make sure to bring a thermos/big coats as it’s winter). For family, Skype, zoom call, or just phone call them! Use any of the group call sites to set up a big family meet up, which will be very safe and socially distanced.
The same can happen with friends/peers from uni. You can have themed zoom calls: quiz night, cooking calls (come dine with me style, pick who’s looks the best), talent show, fashion show outfits (more fun if you pick random clothes from your wardrobe you haven’t seen in ages), spa sessions, karaoke, and anything else!
There are also many sites and apps where you can play online games with other people, or get friends to go on the Xbox Live/Playstation plus and play with them. Netflix also has the chrome extension for Netflix party, where you’re able to send a link and watch with any amount of people at the same time.
What you can do at home alone: exercise, catch up on work (university exam prep!), organise your room, find items/clothes you don’t use and donate them, get up to date with your Netflix series, read books, take time to do hobbies you never got round to, or be bold and find a new one!
If you want to go outside: grab your headphones, make yourself a warm drink in a thermos, pop on some music, and go for a fun walk. It might seem like a very boring idea, but you’d be able to see your area without many people or cars. It creates a supernatural experience. If you’re into photography, sightseeing, or anything that requires the outdoors, make the most of this time when the streets are much less busy than normal.
I’m pretty sure you’ve either heard about all of these or done these activities from the past 2 lockdowns (+/- depending on your area), but I hope this might give you an extra bit of motivation to do something if you like.
Important: Doing absolutely nothing is still amazing! You’re experiencing a global pandemic, a huge historical event, and all of your activities/normal life is restricted. You are in no way obligated to do something at all. Take care of yourself, it will all get sorted out.
Definitely keep an eye out for any socially distanced events, such as a drive-thru cinema, which may pop up in your local news. There will also be a review for tier 4 on the 30th of December, so there could potentially be a change for New years. Stay updated and safe! Remember to be vigilant, especially if you are meeting old/vulnerable family members. We will get through this! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
(Feature Image Credit: @lunarts on Unsplash)