This year, Christmas will be a lot different. Nevertheless, it is still a time of unity and love. Especially during this chaotic and heartbreaking year, we all deserve to spend time with our families and friends. Yet, does this temporary happiness have a drastic potential to rupture long-term problems? Is it worth risking our lives?

I was fortunate to interview a range of students and a teacher on their views regarding the new covid rules for Christmas and whether rules should ethically be eased for the sake of Christmas. I was curious to understand and reflect on what the public think. What should we do?

Q1) What are your views on 3 households being able to mix for 5 days between the 23rd-27th December? Should coronavirus rules be eased for Christmas?

“If you want to spend time with your family that’s fine, but if it's with your friends then it's not really a good idea...some people are vulnerable to coronavirus, so it's going to be difficult for them.” (Student)

 “I think easing the rules is stupid...the virus doesn’t differentiate between xmas time and normal time. If we’re going to do something, we need to be solid and follow it through.” (Teacher)

“I think it's discriminatory towards other religions...Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Islam have had loads of religious holidays...they've had to miss out on their holidays. Why is it now that Christmas - a Christian holiday – we are able to have households mix?” (University Student)

Q2) How do you feel about the government’s actions during this pandemic?

“They’re not doing enough...they should’ve stuck with the rules from the first [lockdown] for the second one.” (Student)

“The fact that our government took the initiative and is now one of the first make a vaccine, is a big deal. At the start of the pandemic...there weren't enough hospital beds and I feel like especially, A&E suffered a lot. The government is trying to do its best.” (Student)

“The government have just acted very very slowly on the whole part of the pandemic..they've put the economy and money at the forefront, where it should be the people.” (University Student)

Q3) Do you think this pandemic will improve sufficiently soon? If not, when? 

“I hope this pandemic will improve soon, but with the rate of how people are responding, I don’t think so.” (Student)

“It will only improve if people follow the rules. Being a teacher, we have had lots of complaints from the public saying students are not wearing their masks on public transport.” (Teacher)

“Another consequence could happen if many households are allowed to mix [during Christmas] ...there could be another lockdown again.” (University Student)

Q4) How has the rise of the covid cases/deaths impacted your mental health?

“At university I cannot see my lecturers’s making me very anxious. It’s placing me in a very bad mental health situation where I cannot go anywhere apart from my room.” (University Student)

“It’s been overwhelming...I have learnt to change the way I see the pandemic.” (Student)

“Having had the symptoms myself at the start of lockdown, I take it more seriously, because I know how it feels. I think as a result, when I hear cases are rising, it does worry me.” (Teacher)

Q5) What matters more during these unprecedented times: compassion vs the greater good for the country?

“Some people may have lost their loved automatically want to be with the people who are still here with you...but is it worth it for example, if you spend time with your grandparents who are at a higher risk of getting covid?” (University Student)

“Both matters. We need to have compassion for those suffering at home and can’t stay active and dealing with mental health issues, but we also need to do anything possible in order for the virus to go.” (Student)

In conclusion, there are very mixed thoughts during these confusing and uncertain times, with the majority of perspectives being negative, as the government send mixed signals as to what is ‘right’. We must keep students in school where there are 1000s of students, wear masks and socially distance to protect the NHS. Yet, covid somehow doesn’t apply to Christmas? As though all of the values that have been engraved into our minds for so long, are now allowed to be pushed aside? What about the severe repercussions? Does it make sense that we celebrate soon, but in January see painful impacts that will only prolong this horrible and problematic pandemic? The government must stop this hypocrisy. How far are they willing to go?

Christmas is coming and it’s going to be a cold one this year. Perhaps these new rules will create a sense of warmth after these trying times. However, the heavy consequences in the beginning of 2021 will melt this warmth away, only to unveil the icy bitter truth. Maybe all we can do now is have a little hope, a little faith and do all we can to keep each other that we can all have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.   

- Written By Saambavii Suthakaran, Caterham High School