Santa Claus with the safety on

The spirit of Christmas which is usually defined by that little nip in the air, a feeling of generosity towards one and all, and that feel-good factor of yet another calendar year coming to a close seems to be overshadowed by concerns of continuing restrictions in various degrees the world over.
Representative image
Representative image

San Francisco

With less than a week to go before the end of the year, and what a tumultuous year it has been, people across the world are bracing for what might be a season cloaked in uncertainty all over again, thanks in no small measure to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
The spirit of Christmas which is usually defined by that little nip in the air, a feeling of generosity towards one and all, and that feel-good factor of yet another calendar year coming to a close seems to be overshadowed by concerns of continuing restrictions in various degrees the world over.
What’s also being seen during this holiday season is the developments pertaining to contagion, hospitalisations and lockdowns transpiring on an international scale. Take for instance, the UK, where a two-week circuit breaker lockdown plan has been proposed post Christmas which should possibly prevent widespread infections across Britain.
As per health experts, there is a clear and present danger that the nation would see nothing short of 3,000 hospitalisations per day, if the country doesn’t go into lockdown by January 1.
Despite being backed by the experience of the previous year, that has entailed vaccinations by the millions and comprehensive testing, the health officials are not leaving anything to chance, even at the risk of muting year end celebrations.
Things aren’t much different in nations like the Netherlands where the Prime Minister has announced the nation would be going into lockdown over the Christmas period. Non-essential services were shut down since December 19 and the embargo is expected to continue until January 14.
Everything from restaurants, to bars, pubs and cinemas are going to be locked down during this period. This will undoubtedly spell bad news for all operators working in these businesses, who count on the revellers, not just from their own cities, but from all around the world, who tend to congregate at such exotic destinations during the holiday season.
Similarly, Germany and France have imposed restrictions on their citizens with regard to flying in from international destinations and quarantining.
In India, where as many as 358 cases of the Omicron variant have been reported, with the bulk of them in Maharashtra (88) and New Delhi (77), followed by Telangana (38) and Tamil Nadu (34), the Centre has urged the public to exercise caution, fully cognizant of the fact that going into a complete lockdown might cripple the economy.
In both Delhi and Mumbai, the local administration has enforced the 50 pc occupancy rules, which has upset many stakeholders in the hospitality business. Karnataka has also opted for a similar stance, while adding a further rider of complete vaccination for the patrons of such joints.
The rules, which will be in place till Dec 31 for most of these cities, are undoubtedly aimed at limiting the spread of Omicron, a variant whose exact threat is still mired in murkiness.
As far as Chennai is concerned, the only major restriction seems to be on the congregation of people on the beaches on the New Year’s Eve, which has puzzled many citizens considering the beaches are open areas, and for the longest time, the highest risk from COVID was being zeroed in on closed spaces, which includes restaurants, hotels and multiplexes.
For those who have made it past these two years of debilitating anxiety resultant of COVID, job losses, and more, this might not be a time to pick a gripe with the administration for erring on the side of caution. 
Irrespective of religious affiliation, this is an hour for a thanksgiving of sorts, and a moment to reflect on how it’s always the little things that matter the most - good health, and the company of friends, and loved ones.
More than anything, Santa just wants you to be safe this year.

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