One in five Christmas parties cancelled following Omicron announcement

Research shows that many firms are rethinking their festive celebrations after the announcement of Plan B Covid safety measures.

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Nearly a fifth (17.5%) of UK businesses have cancelled their Christmas parties following the news of Covid-19 safety restrictions being reintroduced last week, according to digital events platform HeadBox.

But many businesses are optimistic about business life returning to normal in the New Year, with 22% of companies choosing to postpone their party until 2022, rather than cancelling outright.

Should you postpone your Christmas party?

It’s clear that the government’s implementation of ‘Plan B’ has spooked many business owners.

But despite the cancellations and postponements , the HeadBox stats do at least reveal that the majority of Christmas parties will be going ahead as planned.

At the time of writing, it is still perfectly legal to hold a Christmas party (otherwise known to government ministers as a ‘cheese and wine’ night).

You should, however, ensure that all of your employees can still feel protected and involved by ensuring a virtual option for those who wish to attend without compromising their safety.

Using video conferencing software, you could choose to live stream your event for those who would rather stay at home. Another option might be to move your entire party online, and engage in fun digital activities such as a homemade cocktail party, or a virtual escape room.

What are the new rules?

With the new Omicron variant rearing its head, the nation appears to be growing nervous about Christmas being cancelled once again.

Cases of Omicron have been spreading quickly throughout the UK. The government’s Plan B outlines several new restrictions in the hope of limiting the spread of the Omicron variant this winter.

SMEs should familiarise themselves with the new rules, as some could have a significant impact on your Christmas party plans. They are:

Mask-wearing

Masks were already mandatory on public transport and in shops. The rule has now been extended to encompass all indoor public venues including cinemas, theatres and places of worship. Masks are not yet required in pubs and restaurants.

Exceptions to the mask rule can be made when eating, drinking, exercising or (to much bemusement) singing.

Work from home

Guidance to work from home where possible has also returned as of Monday 13 December.

Vaccination passports for some venues

The NHS Covid pass, which can be obtained by having two vaccines or a negative lateral flow test, will be introduced for entry into nightclubs and other large venues from Wednesday 15 December.

Covid health certificates will also apply to unseated indoor venues with more than 500 attendees and outside where there are more than 4,000 people. So if you’re planning to visit a large venue for your Christmas party, you’ll need to communicate this requirement to your staff as some may not be vaccinated.

The government has said it plans to review these measures on 5 January 2022. If the situation worsens, it’s likely that these will be extended.

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Helena is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has previously written for a popular fintech startup covering everything from money-saving tips to cultural reviews.

She is particularly interested in project management software and the films of Peter Jackson.

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