THERE are 94 days until Christmas (depending on where and when you are reading this). And after Christmas last year was impacted by last-minute restrictions caused by a surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of a new variant, people are desperate for a more normal yuletide in 2021. But will that be possible?

Christmas can’t be cancelled again, can it?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that cancelling Christmas this year is “very much not the plan.” But he has also admitted that he couldn’t rule out any disruption or restrictions this December.

What’s the problem?

Where do you start? In the first instance, it’s the same as last year. Covid. New cases are still topping 30,000 per day in the UK.

The vaccination programme has dramatically changed the picture since last year, however, with the majority of the population now vaccinated and a corresponding decrease in the death rate (though people are still dying).

Still, numbers in hospitals in Scotland are rising and health bosses are concerned this winter could be a real test, with fears that it might be the worst ever for the NHS.

Is that the only issue?

Actually, no. The combination of Covid and Brexit has also put pressure on Christmas this year. A global shipping crisis also means there is a possibility that there will even be a shortage of toys this year.

What’s up with shipping then?

Covid breakouts in ports and factories in Asia, combined with the lingering impact of the blockage of the Suez Canal back in March, have led to huge delays and rising transport prices. Companies such as Hasbro and Adidas have already warned of disruptions of supplies this year, while retailers have suggested that prices might have to rise to cover costs.

How does Brexit fit in?

The ongoing widely reported lack of HGV drivers is the issue here. The Road Haulage Association has estimated that there is a shortage of around 100,000 drivers in the UK. And while there is evidence of a shortage across Europe as well, the UK has been hit hardest. In the wake of Brexit many European drivers have opted to work elsewhere. Increased border bureaucracy, tax changes and the decline in the value of the pound have all been put forward as explanations. A survey of hauliers earlier this month put Brexit as one of the main reasons for the driver shortage.

Oh well, if we can’t buy presents at least we can enjoy our Christmas dinner.

Well, maybe, although the current carbon dioxide (CO2) shortage – used in the humane slaughter of livestock – has already led the owner of the Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group to suggest the supply of turkeys could be affected this Christmas.

The UK government, however, says it is working hard to ensure that CO2 production is restarted as soon as possible.

I need a drink.

Good luck with that. There have already been warnings that because of the drivers’ crisis customers may face both lack of choice and increased costs when it comes to their Christmas drinks. Oh, and without CO2 brewers can’t make your beer fizzy.

Bah Humbug.

Now you’re getting into the spirit of the season.