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Much maligned during the pandemic, caroling is back. Outside London pubs, that is.

todayDecember 22, 2021 4

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Last Thursday night, many people in Britain were worrying about the Omicron variant and whether the pandemic was about to disrupt Christmas plans for the second year in a row. But for three carol singers standing outside a bar in south London, there was a more immediate problem: a lack of tenors.

Zoë Bonner, 41, a soprano and co-organizer of a caroling pub crawl to raise money for a homeless charity, explained that a scarcity of male voices “was always” an issue. Then Peter Coleman, 24, strode across the square in front of the bar toward the group.

“Houston, we have a man!” he said, introducing himself.

Within a few minutes, the four singers began belting out “Deck the Halls” into the London night.

Since the pandemic began, live singing has been demonized since it was linked to several superspreader events. But this winter, it seems that attitudes had changed. On Dec. 8, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that masks would become compulsory again in most indoor public spaces in England, he said that singers were exempt.

At Thursday’s caroling pub crawl, Meg McClure, the event’s other organizer, said she realized that the event carried a risk — it felt a bit like “caroling on the edge.” But every singer had done a Covid test before attending, she said, and the group had decided to perform outside if any of the pubs they visited were too busy.

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todayDecember 22, 2021 3