A third of readers cut back on Christmas plans due to Covid

family christmas

A third of us have scaled back our Christmas plans according to an EDP survey - Credit: PA

More than a third of us have cut back on our Christmas plans this year in response to concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant, an EDP survey has found.

Around 350 people took part in the poll, giving a snapshot of how the region has responded to the threat posed by the new Covid strain.

The emergence of the variant - which is said to be more infectious than earlier strains - led to the acceleration of the booster programme as well as the imposition of Plan B restrictions.

Some experts have called for further restrictions and have tried to discourage people from socialising over Christmas. Our survey shows how many people have responded to these warnings and have already changed their plans, without waiting for further official measures.

Among the findings were that:

  • 40pc said they had reduced their social plans in the run up to December 25;
  • Almost a quarter said they had changed their plans for Christmas itself;
  • Just under a third said they would be spending the day in a group of three people or fewer;
  • 34pc said they were not expecting to have a 'normal' Christmas this year.
A nurse prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination

The government has urged everyone eligible to have a booster jab. - Credit: PA

The poll found that most people (60pc) considered the move to Plan B restrictions had been a 'good idea', while 44pc said there should be more measures introduced going in to January. Just 26pc said there should be fewer rules.

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Some 62pc said they would follow any further restrictions as stringently has they had done last Christmas. But a sizable proportion (39pc) said they were less inclined to do so.

Asked to explain why, many cited allegations that some politicians and civil servants have previously breached guidelines.

Of the quarter who said they had changed their plans for Christmas itself, a number of respondents said they had cancelled arrangements to see relatives. Others said they had scaled down the size of their festivities, and would see fewer people. Some said they would only see others outdoors, or with windows open.

Plenty of people said they were staying in more and avoiding events in the build-up to Christmas to avoid having to isolate, although some had taken an opposite approach - by bring forward their festive arrangements to avoid being caught out if restrictions are imposed later on.

Several said they had shelved plans to attend work parties, carol services and pubs.

A Christmas Party

A virus expert has said people might want to think carefully about whether to attend Christmas parties given the emergence of the Omicron variant. - Credit: PA

Of those who took part in the poll, 66pc had already had their booster jab, while only 8pc had switched to working from home this month - although the greatest proportion (56pc) said it was not relevant to them.

The survey also highlighted other Christmas trends: Seventy eight per cent said they had decorated their house, while 84pc said they would have a traditional Christmas dinner.

We also asked how many people readers would be spending Christmas with this year.

The greatest proportion (38pc) said they would be in a group of between four and seven, followed by 26pc saying they would be a group of one to three people. Five per cent said they would be on their own.

Some 17pc said they would be with seven to ten people, while 15pc said there would be more than 11 of them.

Get-together cancelled after positive tests

Scott Pizey

Scott Pizey and Jasmine Jade's plans for Christmas have had to be scaled back - Credit: Jasmine Jade

Scott Pizey and Jasmine Jade from Hellesdon were hoping to bring together five generations of their family.  

Now their plans are in tatters after their daughter Ella, 16 and oldest son Byron's girlfriend Ashleigh Corby, who lives with the family, tested positive.

Mr Pizey, 29, said: “The newest member of our family, my son's daughter, three-month-old Sienna is yet to meet her great grandmother, so it was really important.

“It’s the kids that tested positive, so it is only a matter of time before it passes onto Jasmine and I. 

“We were so excited about bringing together five generations of the family, we know that not every family are lucky enough to have that opportunity.” 

He added: “We were all free from Covid so our Christmas spirits were running high, singing along to Christmas music as the big day approaches.” 

Mr Christmas vows to press ahead with celebrations

Mark Abbott, with his partner Kerry Whileman, and their children, Darcey Abbott, six; Jack-Jack, nin

Mark Abbott, with his partner Kerry Whileman, and their children, Darcey Abbott, six; Jack-Jack, nine, and Robert, 14; at their home in Tuckswood lit up with 16,000 lights ready to celebrate Christmas - Credit: Denise Bradley

His neighbours call him Mr Christmas and Mark Abbott won't be changing his festive plans.

He's decked his house in Norwich with 16,000 lights in a dazzling display which draws visitors from across the city and further afield.

"Everyone you speak to, one of the first things they've been saying is this is what we need," said dance school owner Mr Abbott, 44, from Tuckswood. "It's bringing people together.

"It's three or four weeks, the festive period - if you can't enjoy that, there's something seriously wrong."

Mr Abbott said apart from the cancellation of shows for which he'd booked tickets, he planned to celebrate Christmas as normal with his partner Kerry Whileman and their children, Darcey Abbott, six; Jack-Jack, nine, and Robert, 14.

"I think my Dad's going to pop round on Boxing Day," he said. "We've invited our neighbours round for meals."

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