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A COVID-19 Christmas – What Are Your Plans?

After a stressful and busy term and one unlike any other, I bet you can’t wait to get home for Christmas. Roast dinners are calling with the promise of a free washing machine. Travelling home after term ends and Christmas in general may be a little this year due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. So, we’ve brought together some of the up-to-date advice and tips to see you through the holidays.

Travelling Home

A ‘student travel window’ has been set out between the 3rd and 9th of December, during which you will be free to travel home to your families. If you had already booked your train tickets to travel home before the announcement, then you will be eligible to rearrange your journey within the window without incurring extra ticket or admin fees. Universities have been working hard to stagger departure dates within regions and the exact day you are advised to travel home will vary- for specific advice, contact your university support team. The reason for staggering is to reduce the usual, busy, free-for-all at the train and coach stations this year, helping to keep both you and your families safe.

Unfortunately for some, this does not necessarily mean that teaching will finish for the semester on 9th December! Most universities will continue to provide teaching online, so make sure to check in with your online learning portals.

Top tips for travelling home:

  • Try to avoid busy commuting times when travelling back on public transport.
  • Carry some sanitiser gel with you.
  • Wear a mask when in public areas.
  • Socially distance where possible.

Mass Testing and Vaccination

There has been a lot of talk about mass testing and vaccination among students and the landscape is still changing. The most recent advice suggests that mass testing will occur between 30th November and the 6th December, with universities in areas with the highest prevalence, such as the North East, being a priority. It is anticipated that the testing time will be cut down to just one hour. If you test negative for COVID-19, you’ll be able to travel home without delay. If you test positive, you will have to self-isolate for ten days, but this will give you peace of mind that you won’t be putting your loved ones at risk when you do travel home.

Although trials are in process, there is not yet a publicly available COVID-19 vaccine and you will not be routinely offered a vaccine before you head home for Christmas. This may change in the new year as an effective vaccine hopefully becomes available, but no details are known yet. Watch this space!

Enjoying Christmas

The government has this week announced a permitted three-household COVID-19 bubble between the 23rd and 27th of December. This has sparked mixed feelings across the public, between students and non-students alike, with relief and enthusiasm to spend time with our families mixed with anxieties over the potential consequences. Ultimately, the important message is to be sensible and follow the government guidelines when looking out for yourself and others.

There are still many ways you can enjoy yourself this Christmas. Why not try a virtual Christmas event, perfect that mulled wine recipe or book one of the drive-in cinema showings that are popping up around the country this December? Finally, enjoy yourself! This has been a stressful year on top of exam confusion and getting to grips with a whole new way of learning and we all deserve some time to relax. Stay positive, stay healthy, stay safe.

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