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Service updates between Christmas and the new year

Christmas and the new year are right around the corner, which means there will be service changes to normal council opening hours. On this page you’ll find all the information you may need over the next couple of weeks as we continue to respond to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and work to ensure our communities are supported at this time. 


Cases of Covid-19 remain high across the country with a rise in cases related to the Omicron variant. Currently people are advised to:

  • Get vaccinated – everyone aged 18 and over can now get a booster jab
  • Work from home if possible
  • Take regular lateral flow tests
  • Wear a face mask in most public indoor settings including shops, public transport, places of worship and community settings (only hospitality settings are currently exempt)

Other public health advice continues to be important. Everyone should:

  • Self-isolate immediately if you develop Covid-19 symptoms and take a PCR test, continue to isolate until you receive a negative test result
  • Open windows if you meet people inside - let fresh air in as much as possible
  • Wear a face covering in any crowded and enclosed spaces
  • Wash your hands regularly, and cover coughs and sneezes

You can keep up to date on the latest advice by visiting our dedicated Covid-19 page. Our Director of Public Health also publishes updates regularly to keep residents and partners informed.

If you need support because of Covid-19, need to book your vaccine or find out about testing you can call our dedicated helpline on 020 7364 3030 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Council offices and services including Idea Stores and libraries

Idea Stores

All Idea Stores will be open from 9am – 1pm on 24 December

All Idea Stores closed between 25 - 28 December

Between 29 - 31 December Idea Store Whitechapel and Idea Store Chrisp Street will be open between 10am - 4pm

All Idea Stores closed 1 January

On Sunday 2 January Idea Store Whitechapel and Idea Store Chrisp Street will be open between 11am – 3pm

All Idea Stores closed Monday 3 January

All Idea Stores open as usual from 4 January onwards

Visit the Idea Store website for more information.

Local History Library and Archives

The Local History Library and Archives is closed during the weeks of Christmas and new year.

The Library will re-open on 15 January. You are welcome to book an appointment online.

Other services

Our most frequently used services can be accessed online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without having to phone the council. Find an online service now.

Where to get emergency support

Visit our emergency contacts page for more details.

Severe weather

Our highways and street cleaning team will be on duty through the holidays to keep roads and pavements clear and safe.

We have two spreading vehicles, a mechanical loader and more than 2,000 tons of salt at our winter service depot.

As temperatures continue to drop, there are a few things you can do to benefit your health and home over the winter months. Find more information on staying warm on our winter wellness page.


Parking enforcement by Tower Hamlets is relaxed on national bank holidays but please park responsibly.

Personalised disabled bays and all other restrictions are enforced, including but not limited to all types of yellow lines, dropped kerbs and footway parking.

Find out more about parking restriction on bank holidays.

Waste collections

Over the bank holiday period there will be changes to your normal rubbish, recycling, food and garden waste collection arrangements.

Check your collection times

Christmas tree recycling

There will be a collection for the recycling of real Christmas trees from 3 to 21 January 2021

If you currently receive a kerbside food and garden waste collection, please remove any decorations from the tree and leave out for collection on your scheduled day during this period. If you do not have kerbside services, please contact your property landlord or management company who can arrange collections from the nominated communal collection points.

Register office

Please find our opening hours as follows. We will have additional bookings to register deaths between Christmas and New Year so please check our online booking system after 26 December. If you require an urgent green for a religious burial, please contact our out of hours number. More information can found on the births, death and marriages section.

  • Friday 24 December, 9am-1pm - Reduced hours of service
  • Saturday 25 December, 12-4pm - Urgent burial certificates only - Call 07946 390 834
  • Sunday 26 December, 9am-4pm - Urgent burial certificates only - Call 07946 390 834
  • Monday 27 December, 9am-4pm - Urgent burial certificates only - Call 07946 390 834
  • Tuesday 28 December, 9am-4pm - Urgent burial certificates only - Call 07946 390 834
  • Wednesday 29 December, 9.10am-4.30pm - Normal service
  • Thursday 30 December, 9.10am-4.30pm - Normal service 
  • Friday 31 December, 9.10am-2.30pm - Reduced hours of service
  • Saturday 1 January, 12-4pm - Urgent burial certificates only - Call 07946 390 834 
  • Sunday 2 January, 9am-4pm - Urgent burial certificates only - Call 07946 390 834 
  • Monday 3 January, 9am-4pm - Urgent burial certificates only - Call 07946 390 834
  • Tuesday 4 January, 9.10am-4.30pm - Normal service


Tower Hamlets has over 120 parks and green spaces, which help residents access the outdoors safely.

View park opening times


GP appointments are still available over the Christmas holidays in Tower Hamlets. Knowing the right place for medical help over the Christmas holidays can help you get the treatment you need faster. You can get an appointment with a GP from 8am to 8pm on all of the bank holidays, including for urgent appointments on Christmas day.

Out of hours appointments are also available every normal weekday evening between 6.30pm and 10pm, and between 8am and 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays. These appointments can be booked by calling your own GP practice as usual during working hours or by calling 111 out of hours.

If you have any urgent medical need, you can also visit NHS 111 online for advice any time. Appointments will be held in the best way to keep you safe from Covid.

View pharmacy opening hours

The current circumstances and holidays can be a lonely and difficult time for some people. If you need support and are worried about your mental health over the holidays, you can always speak to someone 24 hours a day on 0800 073 0003.


If you are concerned about someone over the age of 18 that you have seen sleeping rough, you can report it to StreetLink London via their app or website: 

Support StreetLink’s work


2021 was another year like no other, and we are so proud of how our community has come together to support each other.

We wish everyone in Tower Hamlets a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy 2022.

Posted on Tuesday 21st December 2021