What does the Christmas coronavirus guidance announced on 9 December mean for people with pancreatic cancer?

9 December 2020

This blog was published on 9 December, and since then the government has changed the rules for Christmas. The information here now only applies if you live in England Tiers 1, 2 and 3, or in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.


I’m Nicci, one of the specialist nurses at Pancreatic Cancer UK. With the changes in government guidance over the Christmas period, I’ll explain what this means for people with pancreatic cancer, and ways you can keep yourself safe.

In England, the lockdown has now ended, and the country has moved back to the tier system of local restrictions. There are different arrangements in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Things do keep changing, and you can find information about the current restrictions where you live and what these mean for you on our coronavirus hub.

The government changed its guidance for the Christmas period on 19 December. If you live in England Tiers 1, 2 and 3, or in Scotland, you can meet indoors or outdoors with two other households on Christmas Day only (25 December 2020). In Wales, you can meet one other household on Christmas Day. And Northern Ireland, you can meet with two other households on one day only between 23 and 27 December. Read our latest blog for more information.

What does this mean for people with pancreatic cancer?

This has been a very tough year in many ways, and even more so if you are having to deal with pancreatic cancer as well as coronavirus. It is natural to want to see family and friends over the Christmas period. But if you have pancreatic cancer, you may be more at risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, so you may want to think carefully about how you spend Christmas.

The government has produced some advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. People you see over Christmas should also be careful to follow the guidance and reduce the risk to you.

  • If you see more people, this will increase the risk of catching coronavirus. So think about how many people you want to see over Christmas.
  • Reduce contact with people you don’t live with in the two weeks before Christmas. This will reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.
  • If you have formed a support bubble or extended household, this counts as one household. So over Christmas, you can spend time with your support bubble and two other households.
  • Try to maintain social distancing with anyone you don’t live with, staying 2 metres away from them. For example, you could make sure you only sit next to people you live with.
  • You might want to think about wearing a face covering indoors if social distancing is difficult.
  • Everyone should wash their hands regularly.
  • Clean surfaces regularly and keep rooms well ventilated.

Try not to feel pressured into spending time with others if you don’t feel comfortable with this. Everyone should balance the risk of coronavirus with wanting to see family and friends. There are other ways to see each other over Christmas, without spending time inside. For example, you could meet outside, go for a walk, or arrange video calls. You can also meet people who aren’t part of the three households outside – but you’ll need to follow the guidance for the area you live in.

Support over Christmas

Christmas can be a difficult time if you have pancreatic cancer, as it may trigger lots of emotions. If so, you might find it helps to speak to friends and family about how you’re feeling – either in person or over the phone, video calls, or even email. Some people also find it helpful to speak to others affected by pancreatic cancer, and you can connect with others through our online forum. You can find some more helpful tips in our information about dealing with the emotional impact of coronavirus.

You may also worry about what to do if you need medical care over the Christmas period. Speak to your doctor or nurse about who to call if you do need help. You could also check your GP and pharmacy opening hours. It’s a good idea to make sure you have a supply of any medications you need to see you through the Christmas period. We have lots of information about managing symptoms.

Our Support Line is open every day over Christmas from 10am-2pm (except the bank holidays), so you can speak to one of our specialist nurses. Call us free on 0808 801 0707 or email us.

Whatever you decide to do over the holiday season, from everyone here at Pancreatic Cancer UK, we hope you have a safe and peaceful Christmas.

Take care

Pancreatic Cancer UK specialist nurse