Whilst we were in England for our grandson's birthday, the family asked if we would be coming over for Christmas. I think they expected the answer to be yes so when we told them we probably wouldn't, they were taken aback.
Our first concern was how challenging the journey in October had been for us. The fact that we'd had to change our plans just the week before also weighed on our minds. When we were planning the trip it never occurred to us that one of the family may get infected and the impact that would have.
The constant changes in rules that have taken place over the last 20 months was also a major factor. We did not want to arrive in England only to find that we would have to isolate and worst still not be able to return to Spain.
We were also mindful that the infection rate in the UK was rising which indicated that the spread of the disease was far from under control. OK, fewer people were seriously ill and dying but still the number of cases was high. How could we know what the situation come Christmas would be?
As it stands, it seems like we made the right decision. The emergence of a new variety has caused alarm and a flurry of new measures have been hurriedly put in place.
The one that would most effect us is the requirement to self isolate until you have a negative PCR test result. We didn't get the results of our tests until we were at the airport on the way back in October. What would be the point in going over just to spend days in self isolation unable to be with the family. Also, if cases rise in Spain it is possible that we would be put on the "red list" which would mean our isolation would be in a hotel at considerable expense. We'd have to cancel the trip and lose the money we'd paid out.
Interestingly, the one measure that would make no difference to us is the requirement to wear a mask in shops and other public indoor settings. We have worn masks in shops here in Spain right from the start. People here don't complain or question the rule, they simply mask up and get on with it. If the rule had been dropped, as it was in the UK, then there would likely be the same resistance to mask up again.
We remain hopeful that we will be able to visit the family next Spring but who knows. We are certainly not booking flights yet.