This is how lockdown could impact the festive period and your Christmas shopping

Thursday, 5th November 2020, 12:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th November 2020, 12:50 pm

As England enters a second full national lockdown this week, many people have been left wondering how it will affect this year’s festive season.

There are fears that the lockdown, which is supposed to last until 2 December, will be extended over the Christmas period if there is no significant drop in the number of coronavirus cases in England.

This could mean families will be unable to meet each other to celebrate, and it could impact whether all-important Christmas shopping can take place.

With only around 50 days until the big day, shoppers have already been scrambling to pick up presents before all non-essential stores close on 5 November.

So, could there still be a nationwide lockdown in England at Christmas? Here’s everything we know so far.

Will we still be in lockdown at Christmas?

Under the rules coming into force in England from Thursday, family Christmases would be off the table as households will be unable to mix indoors, unless in a support or childcare bubble.

While Boris Johnson has insisted that the new lockdown will last no longer than December 2, there are fears that four weeks is not enough to bring the virus under control.

Addressing MPs on Monday, the Prime Minister promised that “whatever happens, these restrictions end on 2 December and any further measures will be a matter for this House of Commons”.

However, if the R rate isn’t brought down and hospital admissions and deaths are still rising, it is possible the lockdown could be extended past this date.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told Sky News that this could be the case if the R rate does not fall below one by early December.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said: "We are going to review it on December 2 but we are driven by the data.

"On the basis of what we have been told it should drive the R rate below one.

"It’s our hope that we have significantly reduced the reinfection rate."

Experts have said the R rate is unlikely to come down as fast as it did during the first national lockdown due to schools staying open and more people working.

Some scientists have suggested it could take at least six weeks to suppress the virus.

The Prime Minister said a few months ago that he hoped everything would be “back to normal” by Christmas.

What will happen if the lockdown is lifted?

Even if the lockdown is lifted on 2 December, things won’t bounce back to normal.

Boris Johnson had previously indicated that England will return to local restrictions similar to the three-tier system which is currently in place.

There is no way of telling which regions would be put into what tier at this point.

Those in Tier 3 would still be banned from mixing households, whereas people in Tier 2 would be banned from mixing indoors but able to host up to six people in the garden.

Those in Tier 1 would have the closest thing to a usual Christmas as an indoor family gathering of up to six people would be permitted.

What does England’s lockdown mean for Christmas shopping?

With non-essential shops closed until 2 December, the window for high street Christmas shopping has drastically narrowed.

While online shopping is still possible, with stores still permitted to provide click-and-collect services for customers, many people find it easier to buy presents in person.

The Prime Minister warned festive shopping would only be given the go-ahead from the beginning of December if the second lockdown was a “success” in bringing the infection rate down.

Mr Johnson told MPs: “I do think there is the prospect of a much brighter future ahead if we can make a success of these national measures, open up again in December, give people the chance of some shopping, some economic activity in the weeks leading up to Christmas and then beyond."

He said the objective of the new lockdown is to get the disease to “stop doubling, the infection to stop doubling and start halving”.

The R number in England is currently estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.3.