The Workers Union has urged the government to ensure families aren’t forced to cancel Christmas with their loved ones.
The news came as the government announced a series of post-lockdown measures that promised tighter restrictions in some areas.
The announcement was made as part of the government’s COVID Winter Plan. This will see a return to the “tier system” in place before the current lockdown, with the rule of six restored when meeting people indoors and outdoors in tier 1 areas. In tier 2 and 3 areas, meetings will be only be allowed outdoors. Gyms and shops will be allowed to reopen, however there will be tougher rules for pubs and restaurants.
At the same time, ministers are also under pressure to offer a limited degree of freedom for families wishing to socialise with each other over the festive season.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said that the government was hopeful that some easing would be allowed. But scientists warned that attempts to remove restrictions too early would invite another surge in COVID cases.
The Workers Union Says
In any normal year, people would be starting to make halting phone calls to their parents, inviting them to Christmas dinner. Students would be thumbing through train timetables, looking for the last ride home before college closes for the holidays. Workers would be planning office parties and trying to secure some petty cash for a round of secret Santa.
But this is not an ordinary year. It will go down as 12 months in which the darkest dreams of post-apocalyptic fiction became a grisly reality. At the last count, 55,230 people have died of COVID-19 in the UK alone. All the more reason, then, to offer working people a pinprick of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Whatever Christmas people choose to enjoy, the opportunity to tend to the spiritual as well as temporal aspects of our lives is manifest. At Christmas we can reset our goals, take a well-earned break and contemplate the current and future direction of our lives. At Christmas we can spend time with our families, enjoying the rewards of authentic dialogue with those who know and love us. At Christmas we can indulge in family traditions – no matter how trivial – and become part of something greater than ourselves.
For many of us, these moments offer warmth, fun and laughter, as well as hope and solace. To deny people the opportunity to experience them this year – of all years – will have a severe impact on their wellbeing. Families separated from older relatives will not be able to offer their usual help and support. And there is strong evidence that young people’s mental health is particularly affected by lockdowns.
Of course we understand that there must be restrictions. It would be foolhardy indeed (and anti-science) to open up our country to a fresh surge before a vaccine becomes widely available. However, a limited amount of mixing and some cross-border travel must be considered – as must imposing tier 2 or 3 restrictions from the end of lockdown on the 2nd of December. That may be the way to ‘earn’ a small window of time where households can meet on Christmas Day.
For many of us, this would be the best present of all.
The Workers Union – Britain’s hardest working union