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'small sacrifice' Sacrificing our social lives now is a small price to pay for a safe Christmas

'Isn't helping others what Christmas is all about?'

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Stock photo

Stock photo

The government has today announced that the Cabinet has agreed to introduce a new curfew for the hospitality sector.

From Thursday, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs will be forced to close at midnight.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 vaccination passports will be required to attend the cinema or a theatre. The government has also urged people to take personal responsibility and to reduce socialising.

The new measures will also mean that people will be urged to return to working from home where possible, while household close contacts, even if vaccinated, will have to restrict their movements for five days, pending the outcome of three antigen tests.

Although the measures have come as a blow to the hospitality sector and to the young people who have only recently been able to socialise with one another again, the new rules are important to ensure that Christmas can go ahead as normally as possible.

With friends and family members abroad pinning their hopes on coming home to visit, as well as grandparents and at risk loved ones hoping that they can see their family this Christmas - isn’t curbing our social lives the least we can do?

Although many of us feel that the Government has had almost two years to turn the tide on Covid-19, to prevent not only a fourth wave, but also a repeat of last December, this is the situation we are in now, and we must do whatever we can.

This Christmas is meant to be the first time my partner’s sister gets to come home after she moved abroad in 2019. After spending a very upsetting Christmas without her last year, I can’t help but worry that the rise in Covid cases will stop her and many other young people from returning home to these shores to see their loved ones for the first time since the world was upended by the pandemic.

One of my family members spent most of 2020 cocooning, and so last December my partner and I decided to self-isolate for 10 days before Christmas to ensure their safety.

We didn’t get to celebrate the lead up to Christmas by having drinks with friends, shopping for presents and soaking up the festivities.

This year, thanks to the successful rollout of vaccines, I didn’t think we would be in the same situation, but with rising case numbers, and even those vaccinated contracting the disease, I am worried we may need to take the same precautions ahead of this Christmas.

While that for us is a small sacrifice to make, as our hospitals approach breaking point, I feel forced to consider what the actions we take now will mean to our society as a whole. Hospitals are facing a surge in patients attending A&E, with rising levels of people with Covid once again being admitted to hospital and further to ICU beds.

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There are over 5,000 families who have lost loved ones along the way. Many people have not been able to spend time with their loved ones in their final days.

I’m lucky I haven’t had this experience, but many of my friends have.

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Arslan, son of Dr. Syed Waqqar Ali, celebrates his 21st Birthday without his beloved dad.

Arslan, son of Dr. Syed Waqqar Ali, celebrates his 21st Birthday without his beloved dad.

Arslan, son of Dr. Syed Waqqar Ali, celebrates his 21st Birthday without his beloved dad.

One story that has stuck with me throughout the pandemic is that of Dr Syed Waqqar Ali. A doctor from the Mater Hospital who died after contracting Covid while working on the front line in the hospital’s emergency department. He showed up for work in April 2020 and never left.

Three months later in July, his family unknowingly had their final video call with him. He died in hospital, alone without his family getting a chance to properly say goodbye. When his family came to get his car from the hospital’s car park, they found Easter eggs that he had bought, piled up in the back of the car for his young daughter. A man adored by his children and his patients, Dr Ali was buried two days later on his 60th birthday.

Beyond what we owe to our loved ones to keep them safe, and to turn the tide so they get home for the festive season, it’s about doing the best we can for everyone else, even if that means making sacrifices.

Isn’t that what the spirit of Christmas is all about?

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