National lockdown comes to an end this week, with new rules in place and some relaxation over Christmas, where we can meet with up to three other households over a period of five days.
We asked children through focus groups what they thought about Christmas this year, and many raised concerns and questions.
Lots of the children agreed that Christmas is likely to look very different for them this year, mainly because they wouldn’t be able to, or wouldn’t feel safe seeing their grandparents:
“I don’t think it’s going to be the same. My nan and grandad live in Spain, you can only see 3 families over a short period so they can’t come over which is sad.” – Girl, 11
“The problem with our family is that we have 7 people, and the restrictions would probably be 6 people; and then my grandma says all this stuff about you all meet up, I’ll stay, but then you don’t realise your grandparents have… a space in your Christmas tradition.” – Girl, 12
“Christmas this year will be a bit weird” – Girl, primary school
Children are very aware of how to stay ‘safe’ from Coronavirus so it’s not surprising that they asked how it was safe to meet up with other family members at Christmas when they couldn’t see them now.
“I like the idea of seeing my nan at Christmas… I really like the idea of doing that, but I don’t really understand how it’s going to be safe. If I can’t go and have a cup of tea with my nan now what difference does it make if it’s Christmas morning?” – Girl, 17
The key concern for children was the potential impact on the number of cases of Coronavirus and what that could mean for another lockdown.
“I feel like those 3 days could do so much to our like world that everything could go to pot again just because of those 3 days … cause, I feel like even if it’s not your own grandparents, you wouldn’t want anyone else in the world to feel what you could feel when it’s your grandparents. Cause those 3 days could mean another whole 6 months of lockdown again, you don’t know.” – Girl, 12
“What is [the prime minister] going to do about the obvious rise in cases? If you can socialise with three households that’s nice but is this not going to take us back to where we were at the start of the year, 25,000 cases a day again and make things a lot worse?” – Girl, 17
“I think the negative number of cases is going to outweigh the positives of spending a few days with their family” – Girl, 16
“If they are trying to stop the spread and stuff, it just goes back and everything that they’ve been trying to do, with 5 days with having restaurants and pubs open, […] and that might push the spread of the virus […] if they can go, and they give that to you, and then you give that to someone else […] it all depends if households are going and they are then staying a tiny bit apart and wear masks” Boy, 13
“My worry isn’t Christmas, my worry is the effect of Christmas…As someone who has their exams this year, if we come back from Christmas or New Years and there’s a spike in cases and I’m back in lockdown learning like I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I know a lot of people who wouldn’t either… People are like ‘Coronavirus will leave you alone because it’s festive’… I don’t mind people meeting with their friends, but I’m worried about having the social bubbles and then seeing the figures in the next few weeks go back up to where we were earlier this year to get us into lockdown in the first place or get us back into the place that got us into lockdown 2 and then the long reaching effects of that…” – Girl, 17
The issue of perceived discrimination against those from other faiths and religions came up in separate groups.
“It’s a little discriminatory against those… we are having these rules in place for our holiday which is a Christian holiday. Not every religion celebrates that and other religions like [the] Islamic religion they had to give up their celebration and no special rules were put in place for them to celebrate.” – Girl, 16
“I really don’t think Christmas should actually happen. Loads of other religions couldn’t have had their celebrations, like Diwali. So, they couldn’t really celebrate it, so I don’t think we should, why, what makes Christmas more important than everything else? I get that it’s a time for families to come together and we had someone saying oh, it might be someone’s last Christmas because they’re old, but it could be literally anyone’s last Christmas, you don’t know, you can’t decide…” – Teenage girl
Some children had already decided that they wouldn’t be visiting their extended family this year, and thought it was likely that other households would do the same.
“I am not a huge fan of Christmas, especially this year of all years. I get exactly what you are saying about going to see your families and that. I think especially this year […] but I said that I am not going to visit any of my family because I don’t want to put any of them at risk, so I will be joining virtually as well.” – Girl, 18
“I don’t think people will risk going to see their family for five days because it can cause a lot of problems for the future” – Girl, 16
Despite everything going on, there were still things to be excited about this year, even if it was going to look a bit different.
“I think it will be quite exciting this year as well because school has set some things that we are going to do for Christmas, so we are going to have a party in our class, so the teachers make it special for us as well” Girl, primary school