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Saturday, 16 January 2021

Not so Merry Christmas looms for coronavirus-hit Europe

European governments are tacking serious actions to avoid spreading the coronavirus during the Christmas season

Reuters , Wednesday 2 Dec 2020
Christmas in Europe
A woman walks past Christmas trees on Oxford Street, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, November 21, 2020. Reuters
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Governments across Europe are trying to navigate between avoiding spreading the coronavirus over the Christmas holiday season and allowing people to celebrate with family and friends.

Here are some measures that will be adopted for year-end festivities by some European countries:

NORWAY

Prime minister Erna Solberg said that Norwegians can invite up to 10 guests in their homes on two separate occasions between Christmas and New Year. Outside those days the current limit of up to five guests in one home remained, she added..

AUSTRIA

The Austrian government, which will relax some lockdown rules as of Dec. 7, said skiing would be allowed from Dec. 24, but there would be no Christmas markets this holiday season.

FRANCE

The government will allow people to travel from Dec. 15, including over the end-of-year holidays, if coronavirus cases drop to around 5,000 new cases per day.

France, which has decided to keep its ski slopes off limits until January, said on Dec. 2 that it would make random border checks to stop people getting infected with COVID-19 by crossing into countries where ski resorts remain open.

BELGIUM

Belgian households will only be able to be in close contact with one extra person over Christmas, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said. People living on their own will be able to meet two others. Fireworks will be banned on New Year's Eve to limit gatherings and foreign travel is strongly discouraged.

IRELAND Three households will be allowed to meet between Dec. 18 and Jan. 6, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said. The countrywide travel ban will be lifted for that period.

GERMANY

Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed with leaders of Germany's 16 states to extend and tighten the coronavirus lockdown until Dec. 20, but to ease rules over the Christmas holidays to let families and friends celebrate together. Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather, not counting children.

POLAND

The Polish government said no more than five people could be invited to one household according to the new set of rules which are to last until Dec. 27.

BRITAIN

The four nations of the United Kingdom have agreed to relax COVID-19 restrictions for Christmas to allow up to three households to meet at home from Dec. 23 until Dec. 27, also allowing them to meet in places of worship and in outdoor public places but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he was relaxing rules to allow shops to stay open for longer over Christmas and in January.

WEIGHING THEIR OPTIONS

Governments of Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands have all said they were considering special rules for the holiday season, but have yet to announce specific steps.
 

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