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The UK Government just announced a few extra Christmas baubles. In news that will cheer many families, Santa’s grottos, Christmas carol singing and live nativities will be allowed across England, though some of these are Tier-dependent. The following rules apply to England, from the end of lockdown (3 December 2020). For special rules over the five day Christmas period of 23-27 December, see our previous article.
“Ho, ho, ho! Well what would you like for Christmas?”. Words we thought we might not hear from the bearded one’s lips this year. But in a surprise move, the Government has said that Santa’s grottos can open in all three English Tiers. The grotto must be within a setting allowed to open under the Tier it’s in. So, for example, Tier 3 grottos can open in shopping centres, but not museums (which remain closed in that Tier). Needless to say, the grotto experience will be a little different this year, with adults in masks, plenty of social distancing, and definitely no sitting on Santa’s lap. In some cases, Santa may be video-streamed in.
This may just be the only occasion in history when the UK Government has given official advice concerning Santa Claus.
School nativity plays (and other Christmas performances) were always going to go ahead in some form, the question was whether they’d be wowing a live audience or not. Now we have an answer. In Tiers 1 and 2, the school play can have a live audience, so long as the rules for social distancing at performances are adhered to. In Tier 3, live audiences are not allowed, though schools may still wish to go ahead with a live stream of the performance. In all cases, kids will be kept within their own school bubble.
Outdoor singing and carol services will be allowed in all Tiers, so long as participants follow Government advice on singing safely (e.g. keeping a two metre distance from each other and the audience). Indoor audiences may not sing along, though you can do this outdoors. Door-to-door carol singing is also permitted in groups of no more than six. If that sounds a little surprising, then the conditions are even more so: “If there are more than six people in total [presumably you plus the carol singers], each ‘group’ must not interact, ‘mingle’ or otherwise socialise.” This appears to suggest that carol singers can knock at your door and perform for you, but you’re not allowed to interact in any way. Make of that what you will.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.