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What Christmas in Yorkshire could look like this year

Written by on 06/11/2020

Like the rest of England, Yorkshire is now officially in lockdown.

When we should all be making the most of the pre-festive season by getting some Christmas shopping done and planning for our Yuletide festivities, we are stuck at home instead.

All non-essential retail is closed, which includes clothes and electronic shops – usually rammed in the run-up to Christmas – and pubs, bars and restaurants can also not open.

Now is around the time people would ordinarily be heading out for their office Christmas party but these have had to be cancelled too.

But there is some ray of light at the end of this gloomy tunnel – Boris Johnson himself has spoken of hope for a normal Christmas, saying he is confident the one month lockdown will help to “get things open” before.

He said: “All of us want to make sure that families can come together, wherever they live”.

And Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said this period of lockdown will be long enough to see the impact on our health service by December 2 – providing yet more hope that a longer lockdown may not necessarily be in the cards as we had feared.

So, assuming that national lockdown is over by December 2, what can we expect our Christmas to look like this year?

Well, for South and West Yorkshire – which were under tier 3 and 2 measures before the lockdown – it may look like this…

Christmas without family?

Assuming that South and West Yorkshire leave the national lockdown and goes back into either a tier 2 or tier 3 lockdown, one of the key rules would be you must not have a person in your house that is not a part of your household or support bubble.

This would make a mockery of most people’s Christmas plans.

We do not yet know what the plan for the country is post-national lockdown, but Boris Johnson has said that it is likely we will return to a tiered system locally.

Given that many parts of South Yorkshire – such as Doncaster – still have high infection rates, we could well go back to being under tier 2 or tier 3 restrictions.

No large gatherings?

It looks likely that we must all prepare for a Christmas that is quite different to what we had planned.

Council bosses in Sheffield had already confirmed, back in September, that the city’s Christmas light switch-on event will look “very different”.

At the time, Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, leisure and parks at Sheffield City Council, said all public events were under review.

She said: “Events are an important part of our leisure and entertainment offer as well as our economy, but public safety will always be our main priority.

“The current restrictions mean it is impossible to safely hold the kind of large scale events that we normally would during annual holiday periods.

“We will keep this under review but anticipate this year’s celebrations will be very different. All events on public land must be licensed and cannot go ahead in breach of Government rules.”

Many switch-ons, including those in Leeds, Barnsley and Rotherham, were cancelled before the national lockdown.

What about Christmas shopping?

Well, we are missing out on our crucial Christmas shopping right now – and businesses are suffering for it.

All being well, shops will be able to reopen on December 2 but that will only leave three short weeks for many people to complete their shopping, so it seems fair to expect mammoth queues and chaos.

Many councils across the country, including Leeds, had already been cancelling their Christmas markets ahead of the national lockdown, too.

Sheffield’s has also been cancelled. Sheffield Christmas Markets announced the sad news on its Facebook page when the region was moved into tier 3.

They said: “Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the Christmas Market has been cancelled.

“We have been working hard all year trying to make the event happen safely, however due to our recent move into tier 3, Sheffield City Council has made the decision that it is not viable this year.”

Will New Years Eve be a dud?

Will we return to a 10pm curfew for pubs and bars? Will they even be allowed to reopen after the lockdown? No one knows for sure but it’s likely.

If the 10pm curfew for pubs and bars is reintroduced, that will make one day in the festive calendar unrecognisable – New Years Eve.

South and West Yorkshire streets may well be silent on January 1 2021, as the region rings in the new year from home instead of the local.

Could this be the year we all wrap up warm for a (socially-distanced) NYE (public) garden party?