‘There are no good options’: Britons torn over Christmas gatherings | Health policy

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“A smaller Christmas is going to be a safer Christmas, and a shorter Christmas is a safer Christmas,” Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, leaving millions of people across the country to decide whether to go ahead with planned gatherings of up to three households over Christmas.

Penelope Adamson, 66, retired and living in Glasgow, has decided to cancel plans for a family get-together over Christmas. “My son and his wife were going to fly up from London and my daughter was going to drive up from Hampshire,” she said. “But then Nicola Sturgeon strongly advised against overnight stays between households, and then yesterday Boris Johnson made similar recommendations. That was it for me. I got really scared and thought this isn’t worth it.”

Although her son will lose the money for the flights to Scotland, Adamson is certain her family have made the correct choice. “I’m dreading seeing the number of cases and deaths rocketing in January due to the relaxation of the rules,” she said. “Until we are all vaccinated, no one is safe, and I’m just not ready to die yet! We’ll do Christmas at Easter. I think a lot of people will be reviewing their plans given the government’s latest advice.”

Edwin Bailey, 46, believes it will be difficult for families to change their Christmas plans again.
Edwin Bailey, 46, believes it will be difficult for families to change their Christmas plans again. Photograph: Edwin Bailey/GuardianWitness

Edwin Bailey, 46, from Norwich, said his family’s plan to merge three households for the festivities would probably remain unchanged despite the prime minister’s latest advice.

“At this point, we haven’t changed our plans and I don’t think we will,” he said. “Our family made arrangements based on the rules for the Christmas period. Now the government’s advice has got muddled again. It’s difficult: expectations were raised, now it’s going to be very hard for individual families to backtrack.”

He added: “I have elderly family members who say: ‘I’m in my 80s! I don’t care, I want one more Christmas!’ I think they’ll be fairly adamant that they’ll want to see their children and grandchildren, regardless.”

Amy, 37, and her husband.
Amy, 37, and her husband. Photograph: GuardianWitness

Amy, 37, a charity director from south-east London, remains determined to visit her elderly parents in Sussex over Christmas with her husband, two young children and her sister, with whom she is in a bubble.

She said: “By the time we’ll get there we will have been self-isolating for nearly two weeks, and we will only go if we’ve had a negative test before. As far as we’re concerned, we’ve minimised the risk sufficiently.

“We did a lot of research to make sure that we isolate for long enough before the Covid test to be sure we get a reliable result. So we are trusting the science. Our families and a lot of friends think we are being completely over the top.”

Jess Youngs, 34, with one of her children.
Jess Youngs, 34, with one of her children. Photograph: GuardianWitness

Jess Youngs, 34, a mother of two from Chichester, is still unsure what her family will do after the new guidance.

“It’s really tough,” she said. “My husband and I had a discussion for about an hour and a half this morning. He’s one of four siblings, and we were all meant to gather in an Airbnb rental in Southampton for Christmas. You’d have 16 people together, and I said: ‘On no other day of this entire year would I have this many people gathered indoors. So why should we do it on this one?’ I’m a Christian and am sentimental about celebrating Christmas, but I am worried someone will pass it on without realising they have it asymptomatically.

“My husband sees it differently. He thinks this is what his family needs, and I think it comes all down to that: there is the national picture and infection numbers and so on, and then there are the needs of individual families. There are no good options.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘There are no good options’: Britons torn over Christmas gatherings | Health policy

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