‘It’s a mess’: anger and pain as Christmas gatherings evaporate | Coronavirus

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Changes to Christmas plans across the UK have caused “tears” and “extreme pain” after the government announced tighter restrictions on millions of people in London and the south-east. The window to mix up to three households now applies not to five days but only to Christmas Day, and those in tier 4 must not mix.

P Barney Barnes looks at camera
P Barney Barnes: ‘The logistics of sorting everything out is a mess’

P Barney Barnes in Hemel Hempstead, which is in tier 4, said there were “tears on both sides” when he and his family realised they would not be seeing each other at Christmas. “It was a sleepless night last night,” said the digital marketer. “I haven’t seen my niece all year.”

Barnes was planning on travelling to Manchester during the five-day window and arranged delivery and collection of gifts during his stay. “I can accept Christmas is a luxury we may not be able to justify at the moment but the logistics of sorting everything out is a mess.”

He is likely to spend Christmas with his girlfriend, who he lives with, but feels the government could have made the decision sooner. “I’m still figuring out the ramifications of it all. It seems unfathomable that the government would make the decision to give us all a big bonus Christmas just over a week ago and now have to face reality. I find it very difficult to believe that the science wasn’t there already.”

Marie Convery and her partner Gliyn Hopkins
Marie Convery and Gliyn Hopkins: ‘I don’t mind following the rules but a lot of people will be experiencing pain today’

For Marie Convery, a project manager in Manchester, which is tier 3, the U-turn has made her “really angry” and as Scotland has a strict ban on travelling to the rest of the UK, not being able to return home is “extremely painful”.

“I was going to take a load of food and hide in a hotel room and meet my family outside,” said the 43-year-old. “I planned a bike ride with my brother and his kids, and a walk around the park with my mum. My dad lives in a retirement flat so it’s not easy to visit him.

“I’m very angry that someone can travel from Cornwall to Carlisle on Christmas Day to sit and have dinner with their family but I can’t travel a couple of hours to stand in a park with mine because of a stupid border from hundreds of years ago. It’s either safe to meet for a day or it’s not – the Scottish border should have nothing to do with it.”

Convery was planning on being at home with her partner, Gliyn Hopkins, on Christmas Day and feels “very lucky” to have a food delivery already booked. “I don’t mind following the rules but a lot of people will be experiencing pain today.”

In London, which is in tier 4, Liz Izen and her 15-year-old daughter are hesitant to change their plans and will take a few days to think about what they do next. “It’s very difficult,” said the 59-year-old actor. “For my daughter’s own mental health it’s really important she gets away and sees her dad. She’s made progress the last couple of weeks and this will really put her back.”

Izen, who is a single parent, was planning on spending Christmas on her own while her daughter travelled to York to be with her father. “She suffers from anxiety and borderline autism and has struggled this year with lockdown and school.

“We’re unsure of the actual rules because children of divorced parents have been allowed to travel but with this new tier system it seems this is no longer applicable.”

She is concerned that the government is “incapable” of making the right decisions. “Keeping schools and colleges open just because they don’t want to cancel exams again was ridiculous. So many of us are constantly trying to contain our rage.”

Peter Wilkins
Peter Wilkins, 69, from Stockport: ‘This is the one time I would’ve wanted to be with people’ Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

After a difficult year during which his wife died after 47 years of marriage, Peter Wilkins from Stockport, which is tier 3, was looking forward to being with friends in Essex, which is tier 4, but will now be spending it on his own. “This is the one time I would’ve wanted to be with people,” he said. “It’s disappointing.”

Wilkins, 69, who was born without sight, blames the government for not “caring for people at all”. “For Boris to say on Wednesday ‘go ahead’ and then a few days later to tell us to stop – he’s just put the kibosh on it.”

He feels people should be allowed to make their own decisions once they have been told of the risks. “I will be all right as I can look after myself. I’ll go out shopping one day this week and get some extra things but I won’t be having a proper Christmas dinner. I have lots of things to listen to, people to speak to on the phone and to email. I won’t be bored or maudlin, I’ll just get on with things.”

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘It’s a mess’: anger and pain as Christmas gatherings evaporate | Coronavirus

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