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The holiday season is set to look very different for millions of Brits this year, after strict new lockdown measures were announced for those living in London and the south east of England.
Just six days before Christmas, Boris Johnson publicly scrapped plans for three households to create a 'bubble' for four days over the festive period, due to the mutant strain of coronavirus that has ripped across the south.
The press conference saw thousands of people pile onto trains in London's mainline stations in a bid to reach their families before the restrictions came into effect at midnight on Sunday.
Alannah Wood, however, chose not to race back to her family home in East Sussex. Like many, she has found herself stuck in London over the Christmas period - the first time she has been away from her four sisters and her mum. Here, she explains her decision...
Alannah watched the scenes of people fleeing London - blasted by health secretary Matt Hancock as "totally irresponsible" - and while she was tempted to leave herself, she decided to remain.
"I didn't think it was in the best interest of the community to do that," she tells Tyla. "I am worried about passing [the virus] on to my mother, who's in her early fifties.
"If you're completely disregarding the rules, then that does annoy me. Like these illegal raves with thousands of people attending."
Under new restrictions, you cannot leave or be outside of the place you are living unless you have a 'reasonable excuse'. You cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas and New Year period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your support bubble.
While those eligible can still form support bubbles in Tier 4, 26-year-old Alannah feels the constantly changing rules have left it impossible to tell whether she can see her family, who she has not seen since the summer, when the restrictions were last relaxed.
"I was a little tempted to pack up a bag and go. I feel really privileged that I have a car in London, and I can go and drive," she admits.
"We had previously decided two weeks before that we were all going to isolate before coming home for Christmas - only leaving the house for shopping and exercise, so I've been living as if I was already in lockdown. So I did that for no reason.
"I don't know if I can be angry at people though. So many people have been in such a difficult position for such a long time now, that I do genuinely believe that people who are breaking the rules are doing so because they're desperate.
"They need family support, they need friends around them, they don't want to be sitting alone anymore."
It's been a particularly difficult year for Alannah, who has been made redundant twice, broken her leg, split up with her long-term partner and lost a loved one to Covid.
However, co-founding sustainable food delivery start-up Mecommi has been a saving grace throughout the difficulty, and has proven to be a welcome distraction.
For Christmas Day, Alannah has decided she's just going to do "whatever the hell she feels like" - popping to the shops for some meat-free turkey, having a nice bike ride and doing some online shopping.
"My family decided we didn't want to waste goods or buy anything unnecessary," she explains. "So we decided to buy something we wanted ourselves instead of buying each other presents. So I've got my own gift to myself to open anyway. I just left it in what it arrived in - it's not wrapped. I've got that to look forward to."
And despite things being difficult, Alannah is remaining upbeat, and urging those who can to do the same.
"Bad things can often be so much worse in your head than when they happen," she says. "When choices are taken away from us, we only have one choice remaining, which is how we respond."
Featured Image Credit: Alannah Wood
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