We’re getting awfully close to Christmas and, like everything else since March, it’s going to look and feel a lot different to years gone by.

Although it would be wonderful to spend Christmas with our families without any change to our behaviours, bringing the disaster that has been 2020 to an end with at least some semblance of normality, it can be hard trying to weigh up and work out what the right thing to do is.

COVID certainly won’t stop over Christmas, so if we were all erring on the extreme side of caution then maybe we should just stay on our own and dial-in for charades? No support bubbles, no rule of six, no Christmas Eve cuppas or Christmas morning sneak attacks, no wrapping paper snowball fights, no arguing over the last roastie. Christmas through a screen, on your lonesome – how safe and how bleak.

Ultimately, the decision boils down, as a surprising number of decisions do, to a question of Health & Safety.

We can hear you groaning. ‘So that’s the spin that WABT are putting on this, is it?’

Groan away but the truth is the truth.

HSE might still be viewed as a buzzword for boring old rules, but who could argue when the entire year has been Health & Safety information as far as the eye can see. Instructions to stay indoors, warnings to stay two metres apart, orders to stay home (but also requests to stay at work) and commandments to stay safe.

Two white stick figures with yellow face masks in an embrace  under the mistletoe

Spending quality time with loved ones over Christmas is a sure-fire way of giving our emotional and mental health the boost and recovery we all desperately need after this year. Even if the volume of turkey gives your physical health a pummelling!

So, it then becomes a question weighing up the risks against the rewards.

Should you remain indoors as much as possible over Christmas, reducing the risk of getting the virus? And potentially passing it on to others?

Should you venture out but obey the rules while you’re visiting family. Potentially snubbing your Granny when she tries to give you a cuddle?

Should you storm out all guns blazing on Christmas Eve, hugging and kissing everyone you meet and not return home until Jan 2nd? Potentially exposing yourself and everyone else to the virus but having a great time as you do?

All these options carry their inherent risks & rewards.

The only way to decide which is right for you is to carry out a risk assessment on Christmas.

Like all risk assessments, it needs to be done thoroughly, objectively, and with a view to minimising the possible risks involved.

Mistletoe inside yellow stop sign

In this case I think we are all agreed that the hazard involved is clear and obvious:

There’s a chance that you will be exposed to the coronavirus.

Either by taking the virus TO the party or catching it from someone AT the party.

Now we know what we are looking out for we have to:

You might catch it - Not the end of the world if you are reasonably young, reasonably healthy, reasonably reasonable.

Your family might catch it - This one is harder to judge, especially if you live with or are perhaps in a bubble with someone who is at higher risk.

Your granny, who is 85 and was in hospital this time last year with breathing problems might catch it – Probably not a good idea then for all the grandchildren to flock up with a bunch of flowers and a Christmas candle. Maybe better she stays on 'The Facebook'.

With this information our attention turns to:

White figure holding clipboard in yellow stop sign

We all have different ideas as to what constitutes the ‘appropriate precautions’ we should take before, during and after Christmas.

Maybe you’re sitting in a hermetically sealed bubble for the Advent, being fed through an airlock system and waiting for the all clear from on high before emerging back into the world.

Maybe you’re fully documenting and recording every human interaction you have, leaving the local shopkeeper bemused when you walk in with a clipboard asking weird questions like ‘How many people have you had skin-on-skin contact with in the last 72 hours?’

Or maybe you’re just doing the basic ‘wash hands and wear a mask’ in which case you’re still doing better than Donald Trump.

Once you’ve decided the appropriate level of precaution for you, it’s time to:

List of blue text messages inside yellow stop sign

Keeping people up to date with the latest information is vital. But, being a communications company, we would say that.

Stifle that groan and consider this.

Say you had an underlying condition which put you at a higher risk were you to contract COVID-19 - How would anyone know unless you told them?

Say a colleague of your auntie who works on the front line had tested positive - How could anyone possibly decide the best way to deal with that if they don’t even know about it?

Hourly text messages, letting everybody know that you still don’t have ‘The Rona’ might be a little overboard but sharing information lets people update their own risk assessments and helps them make the best decisions for them.

The more you know, the better you can evaluate and prepare.

Have a very WABT Christmas.

No matter what you end up deciding – whether you’re spending Christmas with loved ones or trying to pull a Christmas cracker by yourself, we hope you have a very Merry – and HSE-appropriate – Christmas.

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