How will Christmas grottos, nativities and carol singing go ahead?

Father Christmas is arriving at Dereham Windmill in time for Christmas. Picture; Matthew Usher.

Children will be able to see Father Christmas following the publication of new rules for festive events. Picture; Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The Christmas traditions of door-to-door carolling, nativity plays and Santa's grottos will be able to go ahead - but not quite as we know it.

Government guidance has been published around festive activities and how they can held in a covid-secure way including limiting numbers and social distancing when the national lockdown ends on Wednesday.

Carol singers can perform in groups of six and if they keep at least two metres away from "the threshold of any dwellings".

For school nativities, productions will be allowed to go ahead  "within existing school bubbles" and avoiding any mixing across groups.

Indoor singing will be allowed but only by choirs and with no audience participation.

Santa's grottos can open in all tiers - so long as they are in venues which are allowed to open.

Father Christmases will not have to wear masks in Santa's grottos but children will not be allowed to sit on their knees under coronavirus guidance, Downing Street has said.

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The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We know that meeting Father Christmas is a magical experience for children which is why he will be taking safety precautions, including ensuring that he is operating in a Covid-secure way, but it won't be required for Santa to wear a mask."

He added: "It won't be permitted for children to sit on his knee, as part of the guidance."

The guidance warns the venues should put "appropriate Covid-secure measures, including social distancing" in place.

The rules also extend to Christmas markets which can open but the Government advises they must check the rules according to their tier.

It states: "The rules might be different for indoor shops and open air shops, such as Christmas markets or Christmas tree markets."

Sarah Mullally, 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".

Bishop Sarah, 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."

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