It’s the most wonderful time of the year – until you hit a busy shopping centre.
Going out to buy Christmas presents can be quite stressful, especially since we’re still in a pandemic. Especially since a new variant is on the rise.
Though there are some worries about the variant, health secretary Sajid Javid has told Brits to “carry on” with their plans as normal this Christmas – while health minister Edwar Algar told Sky News the government is not expecting Covid restrictions to tighten within the new two weeks.
The government advice around coronavirus is now that people should take a lateral flow test before they enter “crowded indoor spaces” that day – including shopping centres.
If you do test positive, you should stay at home and isolate. This advice has changed as we head into party season, because there are concerns of rising Covid cases over the Christmas period – previously, the government stated that people should take two two lateral flow tests per week.
Some experts think Covid cases will spike after the new year. Professor Tim Spector, head of the Zoe Covid app study, says that Covid cases are set to stay “fairly flat” in the run up to Christmas, but likely to increase in the New Year.
“Cases might go up in younger people before Christmas, but it’s going to take a while before it gets to the older groups. And the young and the old will mix at Christmas,” he told HuffPost UK. “That’s what will cause probably more [hospital] admissions.”
Christmas is the time for us to meet our family and reconnect with friends. But we should also prioritise the safety of ourselves and the people around us. Here’s how we can keep safe this winter while on the hunt for Christmas presents – before we meet up with potentially more vulnerable relatives.
Wear your mask
The rules on mask-wearing have changed as a result of the omicron variant. In his Downing Street press conference on Saturday November 27, Boris Johnson stated that face coverings would become mandatory in shops and on public transport to stop the spread of the new variant from Tuesday.
The Telegraph reported that anyone who refuses to wear a mask may risk an initial fine of £200 with a maximum charge of £6,400 for repeat offences.
Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, previously stressed to HuffPost UK that the pandemic is ongoing and we should be protecting ourselves accordingly – including by wearing a mask.
While masks and coverings primarily protect other people from the transmission of Covid particles, research also shows they boost protection for the wearer.
Social distance when shopping
Shopping malls during the Christmas period are extremely packed. You can play your part by maintaining a safe distance from those around you. It can be difficult to socially distance when you’re an a packed indoor space, but where you can, try and maintain a two or one metre space with others.
Try online shopping
With so many shopping options online, you don’t physically have to go into shops anymore. According to a survey by personal finance startup Credit Karma, more of us prefer to do our Christmas shopping online now. bile phones. When buying online, you can also utilise sales, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ll find our pick of the best discounts here.
Shop during off-peak times
Shopping centres on a Saturday afternoon in the run up to the Christmas are likely to be extremely packed. If you can, try shopping during off-peak hours such as a Tuesday morning. If you’ve got annual leave that needs using up, put it to good use. You’ll be able to socially distance and avoid those hefty Christmas queues.
Book your vaccine and booster jab
By now, you’ve probably heard that getting your vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against coronavirus. Do not delay getting a jab – or your booster shot if you’re eligible. The last day to get a booster and have full protection by Christmas is December 11.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.