'I won't have next summer, let alone next Christmas'

By Tom Gerken
BBC News

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image copyrightLesley Nelson

The last-minute change to Covid rules for Christmas has affected millions.

Large parts of south-east England will not have the rules relaxed at all, and the rest of England, Scotland and Wales will see them relaxed for just Christmas Day.

For some people, this news is an inconvenience. For others, it is a disaster.

For Lesley Nelson, who has terminal cancer, it is simply "not fair".

"I am terminally ill," she said. "This is likely to be my last Christmas."

"I've spent the last two Christmases in hospital. I have a small family. We had planned a quiet Christmas as normal - just me, my two sons, my mum and my sister.

"They are all taking care not to mix for the week before. I only see my sister two or three times a year, so this Christmas is important."

While she will still be able to see her mum and two sons, Lesley says this may have been her last chance to spend Christmas with her sister.

"I cannot say 'never mind, there's always next year' because there may not be for me.

"I have no idea when I will see my sister again. She was in my Christmas bubble.

"She lives in a tier four area and is on her own. She's been isolating for a week, so there's no risk at all.

"I understand what the government is doing to stop the virus, but sure they must be able to make exceptions?"

image copyrightLesley Nelson
image captionLesley and her husband Ian

'The government could have done things earlier'

Like many others who contacted the BBC, Lawrence in north London wanted to express his frustration that the announcement came without much notice.

He was due to get married on 23 December but is bracing himself for the register office telling him it can no longer go ahead due to tier four restrictions being put in place.

"My wedding is up in the air," he said. "I have emailed the register office in north London and am waiting to see what they say.

"I'll be upset but it won't be the end of the world because it will take place at some point.

"The wedding not going ahead will see us out of pocket by about £500-600. It's not the expense, it's the inconvenience of not having it on the day we want it.

media caption'Tier 4 residents must stay at home' as PM announces tighter restrictions

"I wish the announcement had been done earlier. It's going to affect a lot of people. It's going to affect the lonely and the vulnerable - they are not going to see anyone this Christmas. And what it will do for people's mental health is another matter.

"The government could have done things earlier."

'It's about doing the right thing'

image copyrightJonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes, 40, in Suffolk is facing the prospect of a Christmas alone following the announcement of the Welsh lockdown.

"I'm married with two young children," he said. "Our parents live in Pembrokeshire and we live in Suffolk.

"My wife's mum has a very short period of time left to live so they have gone down to Wales before me to spend some quality time with her.

"I was planning to join on Wednesday after work for the five days over Christmas. The new lockdown in Wales means I shouldn't join my family and instead will be stuck at home in tier two on my own."

His mother-in-law has terminal cancer. And while he says he wants to see her, he thinks it is important to "err on the side of caution".

"It's not about getting away with it," he said. "It's about doing the right thing."

"I'm thinking the wisest thing to do is to spend Christmas alone.

"To announce a Welsh lockdown immediately gives no-one time to plan. The government shouldn't have announced the relaxation of the rules over Christmas originally.

"If they'd have said Christmas is locked down people would have adjusted to that early on. I'm disappointed to be spending Christmas alone but I understand the reasons why."

Additional reporting by: Kris Bramwell, Nat Miller, Paul Harrison, Rozina Sini & Sherie Ryder

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