The popular Edinburgh Christmas Market is returning this year for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
As the second-largest Christmas event in the UK, it is sure to be a festive spectacle, with people travelling from around Scotland to visit.
Running between the 20th November – 4th January, attractions include Santa’s Grotto, an ice rink, and festive market stalls.
For many, it signals the beginning of a return to normal pre-pandemic life, but for others it causes concern and fears that the mass gathering will lead to a rise in cases.
Despite increasing Covid cases, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that no new restrictions will be implemented in the near future – perhaps only the widening of the Covid Passport scheme that is already used in venues such as pubs and nightclubs.
The Christmas Market requires no Covid passport, as the capacities of the events are set to be under the threshold for outdoor gatherings (4000 people).
Underbelly Ltd, the organisers of the Christmas Market, are reassuring those who have concerns, and have taken a number of steps to increase visitors’ safety.
They have expanded the sites of the Market, now including George Street, West Princes Street Gardens and East Princes Street Gardens, in an effort to improve social distancing.
The Edinburgh’s Christmas website specifies an “enhanced cleaning regime” has been ensured, payments will be exclusively contactless, and guests are encouraged to wash their hands frequently at the public bathrooms available.
Furthermore, as most of the event takes place outside, it will be easier for those who are apprehensive to feel Covid-secure. Attractions indoors require a mask, as is standard throughout Scotland.
The University of Edinburgh student population is largely enthusiastic about the return of Edinburgh Christmas, with many students’ confidence in the vaccination scheme encouraging them to return to mass gatherings, offering an added safety blanket for those who feel apprehensive.
Jacklyn Hyder, a second-year, told The Student: “I don’t feel worried about going to the market. Me and my flatmates are all double vaccinated, so we are confident that we will be Covid-safe and we won’t be spreading it to anyone else.”
Furthermore, first-year Ana Bogotyrow said, “I have visited the Christmas Market in previous years, and I can’t wait to go with friends this year for the first time in a while.
“The return of the Christmas market feels like things are finally going back to normal, and because of vaccinations, I think it will be safer for people who visit.”
International student Abby Mackie told The Student: “I haven’t been to the Edinburgh Christmas events before, so I’m really looking forward to exploring and getting everyone in the Christmas spirit, especially after the last couple of years. It is going to be a great way to end the semester.”
Overall it seems that the reintroduction of the Edinburgh Christmas events is going to be an overwhelmingly positive morale boost for the student population, who have missed such experiences since the start of the pandemic.
Due to increased safety measures across the market sites and the effects of the vaccination programme, the market seems to signal progress in the fight against Covid and optimism for the Christmas period.
Image of The Edinburgh Christmas Market via Pxhere