In the UK, new guidance has been published on Santa’s grottos, carol singing and nativity plays.
PA Media reports:
Festive traditions must go ahead only within the regulations – with limited numbers allowed and social distancing required.
Door-to-door carol singers can spread their annual cheer – but only in groups of six and while keeping at least 2 metres away from “the threshold of any dwellings”.
Government guidance, published on Sunday to cover the Christmas period, also allows indoor singing when England’s national lockdown ends on 2 December, but only by choirs and with no audience participation.
Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London, said the news that people can come together to sing outdoors over the festive season “will bring comfort and joy to many”.
For door-to-door carol singing, where there are more than six people, the groups should not mingle or socialise, the guidance states.
Participants are expected to follow social distancing by staying at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not from the same household, and the same distance away from the door of the property outside which they are singing.
Indoor singing by professional and amateur choirs can take place according to the particular area’s tier, but audiences or congregations are not to join in “any activity that can create aerosols, including singing, shouting and chanting”.
Those activities are known to increase the risk of virus transmission.
For indoor choirs, the maximum number of people present “should take into account the area of the space and the requirement to maintain 2 metres social distancing at all times”, the guidance states.
Bishop Mullally, who chairs the church’s recovery group, said:
Singing is a very special part of our worship, especially at Advent and Christmas, so I know that the announcement that we will be able to come together for public singing outdoors this Christmas will bring comfort and joy to many.
Advent and Christmas this year will not be the same as previous years but having outdoor congregational singing and indoor carol services with choirs is a reasonable balance and recognises our duty to protect and care for each other.
Meanwhile school nativity plays will be allowed to go ahead “within existing school bubbles” and avoiding any mixing across groups.
Audiences will only be allowed to attend in tier 1 and 2 areas – subject to “appropriate safeguards”.
For proud parents in tier 3, schools are advised to use live-streaming or record the performances. Santa’s grottos can open in all tiers – so long as they are in venues which are allowed to open.
The guidance warns the venues should put “appropriate Covid-secure measures, including social distancing” in place.
For people hoping to get in the festive mood by attending a Christmas market, the government advises they must check the rules according to their tier.
The rules might be different for indoor shops and open air shops, such as Christmas markets or Christmas tree markets.
Personally, I am very sad not to be able to attend my son’s first ever nativity play this year, especially as he is the eponymous Sleepy Shepherd, and will definitely never get such an important role again. I’m hoping at least for a recording we can taunt him with on his 18th birthday.