The month of December, especially its last weeks, is that time of the year when cities’ skylines change. Buildings and trees are adorned with glittering lights to reflect the mood, while corporate companies try outdo themselves in decorating different public spaces like major roundabouts. The dominating merchandise on the stalls of different shops will also most likely Christmas-related goodies like plastic Christmas trees and related items. It is normally that period business operators, especially those in the retail industry, look up with anticipation because this is when their sales surge. Despite the escalation of Covid-19 infections in the country over the past week or so, some individuals, firms and government institutions have started setting the tone for this year’s festive holidays. Commuters buy tickets before boarding buses at Nyabugogo Taxi Park as they head upcountry for festive seasons on December 20.(Craish Bahizi) For many, there is optimism that despite the surge in the virus, mainly exacerbated by the new variant Omicron, the mood will not be as grim as one last year. With movements restricted, currently from 10pm to 4pm, Jean D’amour Musabyimana, a motorcyclist operator in Kigali said that earnings are reducing due to the reduction of working hours. However, he said, people are at least moving unlike last year, which is promising a better are festive season. One of the areas that experiencing an impact is the transport sector, with more people traveling back upcountry to celebrate Christmas with their families. “The number of travellers has started to increase compared to last week despite the new restrictions,” explained Wilson Mugiraneza, a bus-driver with Stella Express, which plies the Rwamagana-Kayonza route in Eastern Province. He said that normally, buses start the journey almost empty and collect passengers on the way. However, since last weekend, many of Stella Express buses are starting the journey with all seats occupied. Peter Ndayisenga, who owns an electronics shop in Nyabugogo area says that his business had not yet experienced any change in terms of number of buyers unlike other similar periods in the past years. “These are the days when there was a lot of traffic in my shop and my sales would surge. Unfortunately, just like last year, we have not yet seen any change,” Ndayisenga said during the interview on Monday. According to Eric Munanira, who owns a retail shop in Kicukiro, clients are increasing slowly as we get closer to December 25, the Christmas Day. However he said, new Covid-19 restrictions will greatly set them back because parties and other celebrations have been prohibited. Wilson Mugarura, who has repurposed his small business to venture into Christmas trees and other decorations related to the festive season in downtown told The New Times that over the past few days, buyers have been increasing. He said he was optimistic for better days this week as Christmas draws nearer. Ange Sifa Uwase, worker at Nice Bread, a snack shop located in Nyabugogo Tax Park said that due to the increase of passengers in that area, a huge number of people are consuming their products. Ahead of Christmas Day and New Year, several measures adopted on recommendation of the Ministry of Health have seen several activities prohibited, including concerts.