If your child’s school decides to put on a Christmas nativity play or panto this December, it’s likely to look a little different to usual. And no, we’re not talking festive lobsters à la Love Actually.
The government has issued guidelines describing how certain Christmas activities can take place in a Covid-secure manner, from carol singing to visiting Santa’s grottos. School plays have also been given new restrictions.
While plays are permitted across England, parents and guardians are only permitted to attend in tier 1 and 2 locations, subject to “the appropriate safeguards being in place”.
Expect audience numbers to be limited each evening to allow for social distancing and bring a coat – schools have been reminded to open windows for ventilation wherever possible.
Audience participation is also a no-go under the guidelines for performing arts (which some parents may breathe a sigh of relief at).
Schools are advised to discourage “activities which can create aerosol such as shouting, chanting and singing along”.
You’ll also be asked to sit as soon as possible, rather than mingling with other parents upon arrival, so we’re guessing the PTA table selling alcohol is out.
In tier 3, audiences are not permitted at all, but schools can still put on a play if they choose. Teachers have been advised to utilise tech, by live-streaming the show or recording the performance and making it available to parents.
The plays themselves may also feel scaled back this year. Teachers have been told to limit the duration of social interaction opportunities (e.g. rehearsals) as far as possible, so be prepared to start practising lines with your kids at home.
You can also forget seeing any big musical numbers as “singing, wind and brass playing should not take place in larger groups such as choirs and ensembles”.
Given the restrictions, some schools may skip the annual tradition all together. That shepherd’s costume may have to wait until 2021.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.