Should Granny come for Christmas?

Loosening of lockdown rules will give us a short window of opportunity to see loved ones this Christmas.

The new social distancing rules over Christmas will allow us a short window of opportunity to see some of our relatives and celebrate the festive season. It feels like the rules have been relaxed because people were expected to meet anyway, but by having some restrictions in place the level of interactions can be contained.

For my family, Christmas is a huge family tradition. It's all about having the most important people together around the Christmas table. For me during coronavirus, the thing I missed most was being able to have my parents and children around the table for Sunday dinner.

But while we all want to get together for Christmas, many of us are asking ourselves whether it is worth the risk, especially when we've spent all year protecting the vulnerable. Some scientists are even recommending moving Christmas to summer when it will be safer, and we can celebrate outside in the warmer weather. Given the fact that lockdown rules weren’t relaxed for other festivals such as Eid, should they be loosened for Christmas?

The people in my extended bubble all live locally and we’re all working from home, so we should all be at low risk for being or becoming infected. Even so, I am still looking at how I can minimise my contacts as we come out of national lockdown in England. I won't be shopping in town, I will stay local and order online, I won't be returning to the gym and will continue to run outdoors and do weights at home. I am going to take a trip to the hairdressers, but only because I know I will be the only client in the salon.

For many families, the decisions are much more challenging – particularly when families live in different parts of the country, with different lockdown rules and different levels of risk. Students pose another potential issue, especially if they are at university in a higher risk area than their families. Having seen a massive spike in infections as students arrived on campuses in early autumn, no one wants to see the reverse happen as they all return home. We see pro-active testing and self-isolation together with travel corridors as ways to minimise the impact as students return home.

Talking to friends, it's a real dilemma of head and heart – we all know that Christmas won't be the same, but after a year of separation, everyone wants to hold the ones they love near – even if we can’t hold them physically.

Some people are going completely digital, others are doing a hybrid model, others are looking to test and self-isolate before travelling to visit loved ones.We’ve put together some guidance for when to take a test and what to do afterwards if you want to get the family tested before meeting up.In the end, the answer will be different for all families and only in the weeks following Christmas will we know if we have made the right decisions.