16 December 2020

CapX’s Covid Christmas


With Government and medical advice changing by the minute, we asked CapX writers what they’re actually planning to do this Christmas and what’s influenced their decisions.

Christopher Snowdon

I’ll be travelling from one Tier 2 area with a low infection rate to another Tier 2 area with a low infection rate, and if those swineherds in Whitehall try to stop me I shall ‘go postal’. The plan is to stay with my parents in the countryside, as we do most years. Despite being robust lockdown sceptics, they are within the orbit of being ‘vulnerable’ and so a little extra caution on our part in advance is in order. No kissing pangolins or Londoners for us until the new year. We’ll all be grounded again in January so we might as well make the most of this momentary pastiche of freedom.

Helen Dale

I have been critical of the inconsistency of the various coronavirus regulations. Many of them, in my view, represent a serious attack on the rule of law and a genuine threat to public perception of both the police and public health. I do, however, intend to comply with them over Christmas. Unlike Beth Rigby, Kay Burley, Dominic Cummings, Neil Ferguson and Catherine Calderwood – if I’m caught breaching them while I’m supposed to be an officer of the court, my days as a practitioner will be over.

Dan Hannan

Reading. When Roger Scruton died earlier this year, I suggested that we would all benefit from reading his books. I am following my own advice and working my way through the parts of his corpus that I never got around to while he was alive. Over Christmas, I’m reading one of his novels, The Disappeared, and his piece Wagner’s Ring Cycle, The Ring of Truth. To be honest, Wagner was never my thing. It always sounded to me like movie sound tracks. I can’t even read music. But, my God, Roger has opened my eyes and ears: his gift has always been to be able to compel your interest in the unlikeliest subjects. I’m not sure I have come across a better prose stylist.

Oliver Kamm

I’ll be working on Christmas Day. I always do, but this time from home. I’ve always admired the sensitive and wise personality of Ebenezer Scrooge and deplored the bullying he was subjected to by unsolicited supernatural visitations.

Alys Denby

I’ve taken my instructions from older relatives, not the Government. It’s not as though the police are going to come round on Christmas day and snatch gifts from children’s hands, so for us it was a question of making a sensible decision about our own risks and what our family would be comfortable with. Normally we’d be going up to Scotland but this year it will be a Covid-compliant bubble in London.

John Ashmore

The decision over whether to go home for Christmas has been made considerably easier by the fact that my septuagenarian parents have both already had a nasty bout of ‘the Rona’. Had they not, it would have been a much more difficult decision, particularly as I am a bit of a Christmas die-hard (also the name of the best festive film, incidentally). As for the day itself, I expect the familiar pattern of bacon sandwich, uncharacteristically noisy Quaker meeting, pre-lunch walk in the park and then as much food and booze as we can physically handle before conking out in front of Goldeneye.

Jonathon Kitson

Christmas day will be at home with just my parents and I. My family’s experience this year has been even more isolated and extreme than most people’s. I am “clinically extremely vulnerable” so the Kitsons have been restricting contact since January. The Government’s advice therefore won’t be changing our Christmas plans to limit contact to keep me safe. We won’t be seeing the rest of our family.

However, I am looking forward to a hearty Christmas dinner, a vaccine delivered much earlier than many predicted and a new drug for my condition, Cystic Fibrosis. The vaccine has not been the only medical miracle of 2020. In June some 10,000 people with CF, an utterly miserable genetic condition for all affected, were granted access to a life changing drug, trikafta, by the NHS. We will be missing the rest of our family, but thanks to pharmaceutical companies developing incredible drugs, many people will be able to see their loved ones for many more Christmases to come.

Simon Kaye

We – me, my wife, and our baby daughter – are planning to spend Christmas with my wife’s parents, with whom we formed a ‘childcare bubble’. We took the upsetting decision not to see any other family at all this year, including my own elderly parents. In the run-up we will be minimising trips out, but hopefully catching up with some nearby friends by going for walks together. We think the main remaining risk factor is that our daughter will be in nursery until the 22nd, and she does seem to catch every single possible virus there.

Tom Harris

Both my wife Carolyn and her mum are in vulnerable groups, so although her mum has bubbled with our family and will be coming round for Christmas dinner, we’ve cancelled our planned larger family get-together, even though it would be permitted under current rules.

Kai Weiss

Christmas in Germany will be rather different. From December 16 to January 12, we’ll be in another full-blown lockdown, including over Christmas. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve won’t happen due to a 9pm-5am curfew – obviously the Coronavirus spreads much faster at night… or something.

James Harris

My wife and I are going home to my family in Nottingham. However, I can’t help feeling we shouldn’t be. I’d almost be relieved if the government gave more restrictive advice, as I dislike the part of playing a part in another surge of the virus. There’s a moral aspect to it as well as just the practical one.

Owen Polley

My wife is a hospital doctor and she’ll be working on Christmas day, so I’ll be driving my two boys (two and four) about 30 miles to my sister’s house. We’ll be using the three household rule, as our parents will be joining us. Two weeks ago, my wife and I tested positive for Covid. Having self-isolated and recovered fully, we feel the risk we could carry the virus to family or friends is now very low.

Dr David Jeffrey

I’ll be going back to the family home for Christmas day. There will be four of us (and two very excited dogs). On Boxing Day I’ll be going to see my partner who lives in the West Midlands and spending a few nights there too until New Year’s. For the Christmas period, the government rules make very little difference to me – especially if they change now – I don’t think my mum would let me skip a family Christmas day even if I wanted to!

Ben Gadsby

For Christmas Day I am making the short trip from Croydon to Havering to see my Dad any my Nan. That’s the easy bit (apart from cooking a turkey in her very old oven). These restrictions are most complicated for those of us who have divorced parents and blended families. My sister lives with my half-brother, and if he sees his Dad and his other half-brother like normal, that means she can’t mix with any other households – so a Boxing Day walk for us. This Christmas will be the first in my life where I haven’t seen cousins in Cambridgeshire. Roll on Easter.

Frank Lawton

I’m driving home for Christmas to avoid taking the spluttering death buses the Government is kindly laying on for us. The Christmas-Covid conundrum is about managing a balance of risks – not just avoiding death, but also breathing life into a deadened year. My grandparents, for example, refuse to countenance not seeing their loved ones after months and months under de facto house arrest. And so the question for our family is how to manage the process safely. By the time I drive home I’ll have been self-isolating for 14 days. My parents will have taken Covid-tests. And not one of us will have seen a scotch egg in months.

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Alys Denby is Deputy Editor of CapX.