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It's Beginning To Look (A Bit) Like Christmas: The New Rules On Everything From Carolling To Santa's Grottos

Jasmin Gray
·Politics news reporter, HuffPost UK
·4-min read
Portrait of Santa Claus, sitting in chair with sack full of presents, looking at Christmas list (Photo: Gpointstudio via Getty Images)
Portrait of Santa Claus, sitting in chair with sack full of presents, looking at Christmas list (Photo: Gpointstudio via Getty Images)

The government has already made it very clear that Christmas 2020 is going to be far from normal.

Like always, there will be Christmas songs, mince pies and someone will inevitably have too much sherry. But for the first time, there will a limit on the number of people around the Christmas dinner table (one that’s not just based on how many camping chairs you have in the loft).

With 99% of England set to be under tier two and three restrictions when lockdown ends on December 2, people will only be able to meet up in a bubble of three households between December 23 and 27 in a bid to keep coronavirus infections under control.

But that’s not the only set of festive rules you need to be aware of. On Sunday, the government published a new set of Crimbo restrictions – and these ones cover everything from carolling to Santa’s grottos.

Here’s what you need to know in England.

Carolling

Three generation family are doing door-to-door carol singing. There is a senior woman at the door, appreciating their singing. (Photo: DGLimages via Getty Images)
Three generation family are doing door-to-door carol singing. There is a senior woman at the door, appreciating their singing. (Photo: DGLimages via Getty Images)

With research showing that singing can increase the risk of coronavirus transmission through the spread of small droplets and aerosols, it’s hardly surprising that the government’s guidance on carol singing is pretty extensive.

Here are the key facts:

  • There are no limits on the number of people allowed to perform and rehearse in children’s choirs or professional adult choirs – but amateur adult choirs are restricted by local rules on gatherings.

  • Indoor and outdoor performances are allowed – but the maximum number of people in attendance must take into account the area of space and allow for 2m social distancing.

  • Audiences must not join in with indoor performances.

  • Audiences may take part in outdoor performances – but should remain seated where possible.

  • Door-to-door carolling can go ahead in groups of six or less people. However, you must stay at least 2m away from anyone who is not in your regular household or bubble.

Santa’s grotto

Close up of Santa holding a Christmas present (Photo: stocknroll via Getty Images)
Close up of Santa holding a Christmas present (Photo: stocknroll via Getty Images)

If your kids have been begging you for weeks to take them to visit Santa so they can hand over their Christmas lists in person – you’re in luck.

Santa’s grottos will be able to open in all tiers, as long as they are located in venues that are otherwise allowed to open. However, the guidance makes it very clear that Covid-secure measures – including social-distancing – must be in place.

Visiting churches and places of worship

From December 2, you can attend places of worship in all tiers – but who you can go with will depend on which tier you live in.

In tiers two and three, you must not socialise with anyone from outside your household or support bubble while there.

However, between December 23 and 27, you will be able to attend a place of worship with people inside your three-household Christmas bubble, regardless of what tier your area is in.

Nativity plays

The school nativity play – for many parents (and kids), it’s a staple event in the run up to Christmas.

According to new government guidance, nativity plays can go ahead in all tiers, as long as they take place within existing school bubbles.

However, parents will only be allowed to watch in person in tier one and two areas, with audiences banned in tier three. Instead, schools should use “alternative methods”, such a live-streaming the play or recording it, guidance says.

Christmas shopping

(Photo: charmedlightph via Getty Images)
(Photo: charmedlightph via Getty Images)

When lockdown ends on December 2, who are you are allowed to go Christmas shopping with will depend on which tier of restrictions your area is under. In other words – if you’re in anything other than tier one, you can’t go shopping indoors with anyone outside of your household or your usual (non-Christmas) bubble.

Between 23 and 27 December, the rules on who you can meet in shops will not change. This includes Boxing Day sales.

Volunteering

For many of us, volunteering is a key part of Christmas – and the government has agreed to allow this to continue in all tiers.

However, ministers are encouraging people to volunteer from home where they can and to follow social distancing rules where they can’t.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.