With the COVID-19 disseminating everywhere, the world is fitting itself out for the most outlandish holiday season of modern history. Though a few vaccine candidates are grinding hopes of near “back-to-normal” days still a long time lies ahead and a whole COVID winter to go.
With the government insisting not to travel, lockdowns and contagious virus outside; how will the holiday season gutted by the pandemic be? Will the pandemic jeopardize holiday celebrations? How can Christmas amidst pandemic still be merry?
Celebration and grieve
The United States, home to the largest Christian population is the worst-hit country by the pandemic. The country is grieving the loss of more than it’s quarter of a population; thousands adding up to the list daily. With the surging cases of daily infections, the US is going through one of the toughest time in recorded history.
The gloomy pandemic causing lockdowns and restrictions all over the world have shaken the economic condition of almost every country. In the United States, food insecurity this year have doubled compared to 2019, the Census Bureau’s latest survey. Millions of people in the country depend upon charity for Thanksgiving dinner.
Zuani Villareal, Feeding America’s spokesperson says; “Across the country demand has not let up, and food banks do everything they can to make sure families have food on the table for Thanksgiving. There’s no end in sight, but we can’t be the only solution”.
What is the government planning for the Holiday Season?
Leaders all around the world are pondering upon how families can come together in the holiday season. In the celebration of Ramadan and Diwali, many people have turned towards technology, with virtual-gatherings and celebrations online. Government and scientists are planning to relax some restrictions so the family can celebrate together.
Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director Europe says; “Cherish the festive season with those close to you. If it’s a large gathering, with vulnerable people, you might postpone that gathering until you can safely gather. Despite the cold, if local restrictions permit, gather outside with loved ones for picnics in the park,”.
Easing lockdowns will pose substantial risks, as many countries are confronting peak of infection cases; but keeping families apart after the tragic year everyone is having is also off the table for most of the decision-makers.
Easing of restrictions
In England, Scotland, Wales and, Northern Ireland government have decided to allow Christmas bubbles (a gathering of maximum three households) to celebrate together. Travels restrictions will also be eased for the festive duration. From 2nd December people in England will be allowed to meet at max 5 other people, but only in tier one area.
In Wales, a maximum of two families are allowed to form a bubble, and residents could meet four people in restaurants and pubs for celebrations. In Northern Ireland, a bubble of two families is permitted but they will not be allowed to meet anyone else indoors.
France government have decided to ease lockdown restrictions from 28th November. President Emmanuel Macron addressed, “We will be able to travel without authorisation, including between regions”. Since late October, France was under second nationwide curfew, but from 15th December the country would be under the night curfew, with an exception on the Christmas and New Years Eve.
Austria, on the other hand, would carry on its second national lockdown until 7th December, and there is some probability of ease in restrictions. The Austrian government have planned to conduct about 7 million anti-gents tests before Christmas in a jest create a safe environment for Christmas celebration. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, “A few minutes for a test could prevent weeks of lockdown for the whole country,”.
Religious places have been closed for a long period now, but now in the wake of Christmas Eve, worship place will reopen for communal prayer; but obviously huge gathering like before will not be allowed.
What all will be different in this holiday season?
Due to restrictions, Christmas this year will be different. Gatherings and parties will be shifted to Zoom and other online platforms. Instead of in-person people will prefer shopping online.
The government does not look in the frame of mind of extending relaxations till new year; therefore this year’s New Years Eve will also be unlike any other, without fireworks and street parties.
Wrecked economic conditions and increased food insecurity will surely make this holiday season tough for a huge population. But with many helping hands this might not be the real picture. Food banks and helping communities are trying their best to provide food in maximum plate but the more the helping hands the more plates will have food and more the merrier holiday season will be.