Will a Christmas lockdown become a reality for Sheffield?

Written by Lucy Edwards

While the Government remains adamant a Christmas lockdown will not be ordered across the UK, rising Covid cases are becoming harder to ignore. With the festive period just around the corner, Sheffield’s fluctuating Covid cases are an unwelcome concern. This has left many people worried at the prospect of another Christmas lockdown and the effects it could have. 

For Mark Richardson, the owner of Sheffield city centre’s LP Record Store, another Christmas lockdown would prove a “disaster” for his small business.

“Since the pandemic and the lockdowns we had, I haven’t recovered from it. The footfall is about 50% less.”

Last year, the Government’s business support grants were the only thing keeping him afloat and now, he fears the Government will not be able to offer the same level of support in light of a new lockdown. 

“If that was the case, It might mean the end, after a long time, after a lot of years, so let’s just hope it doesn’t happen.” 

For Mark, working from home is not an option with over 20,000 records in his possession.

He must work in-store and sell his records online, which proved difficult for him during the last Christmas lockdown. 

“I sell online but where I make the most money is from passing trade and the public. I was putting stuff out, but very very slowly, I just lacked motivation.”

While there hasn’t been any clear mention of a Christmas lockdown just yet, there has been some discussion around Plan B, which would see the reintroduction of social distancing and compulsory face masks. 

Even so, the Government has stated that at the moment, this isn’t on the cards. Instead, they are focusing their energy on the vaccine booster programme. 

In addition, this morning, it was reported that cases in the UK have jumped by 74%, another worrying pre-Christmas rise that none of us want to see.

What are cases like now in comparison to last year in Sheffield? 


Speaking after a recent visit to a pharmacy in Old Sidcup and Bexley, Boris Johnson added to anxieties after he said: “I’m seeing storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent. And I’ve got to be absolutely frank with people – we’ve been here before, and we remember what happens when a wave starts rolling in.”

Christmas lockdown rules tightened suddenly on the 19th of December last year, the announcement of which came only days after Boris said that Christmas rules would remain relaxed.

According to the UK’s interactive Coronavirus map, since last week, we have seen large case increases in specific areas like Sothall, where they are up 158.8% since last week. With 836.3 cases per 100,000 people, it far exceeds the UK’s average of 443.8 cases per 100,000 people. 

Other areas showing a sharp increase in cases include Fulwood and Lodge Manor, with an increase since last week of 41.4% and 586.7 cases per 100,000 people respectively. 

Across the city overall, the picture is not so bleak. Cases have decreased by -4.6% compared to last week, with 1,765 positive tests recorded by the Government’s Coronavirus Simple Summary for the 19 to the 25 of November. 

However, only 1,111 positive tests were recorded from the 19 to the 25 of November last year, which is a startlingly low amount in comparison to this year.

But vaccines have meant that severe cases have become less of a concern, with countless lives being saved thanks to the rollout. Deaths and hospitalisations in Sheffield have seen promising change since last year.

There have been 9 deaths reported by the Government’s Simple Summary for Sheffield from 19 – 25 November this year, whereas last year, 28 deaths were recorded in this same time period.

In turn, between the 15 and 21 of November this year, 77 people went into hospital with coronavirus, where 240 were admitted during the same time last year.

This means that both the number of deaths and hospitalisations have decreased by 68%.


‘Recovery only just beginning’


Councillor Barbara Masters for Eccleshall, where cases are currently lower, at 291.6 per 100,000 people, said: “I think it’s too hard to make a call at the moment” on whether Christmas will go ahead. 

“I think the Government will do everything they can to avoid a Christmas lockdown especially after last year and the disruption it caused to quite a lot of businesses.

“We’re only just beginning to get some recovery, but the driver won’t necessarily be the Government’s views, it will be what’s happening in the NHS and whether it will cope.”

For City Councillor Martin Phipps, Plan B should have been more of a priority, he said: “We need to still be guided by the science and what infections are looking like.

“For me, really, I wanted us to follow Plan B much earlier, because actually that’s kind of the point of doing softer restrictions. Plan B wasn’t a lockdown, it was facemasks being compulsory again and following social distancing etcetera, and those are the kind of measures that mean that infection rates go downwards and we avoid the need for any kind of lockdown. 

“Where we are now, I honestly don’t know, obviously infection rates are still high and people are still dying which is concerning and they’re starting to rise again and the Government tried to claim we didn’t need Plan B and it would all just go down anyway and basically that’s not worked out. 

Mr Phipps says he wants the Government to be guided by advice from experts in Sage and Independent Sage, “because not doing that has led us to where we are”.  

But he adds: “It’s not particularly exciting. Nobody wants a Christmas lockdown two years in a row.”

Written by Lucy Edwards

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