22 June 2024, Saturday | 10:08am

Not so Merry Christmas looms for coronavirus-hit Europe


(Reuters) - 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:



The Czech government allowed shops and restaurants, which have been shut since October, to reopen on Dec. 3 ahead of the holiday season.



Up to 10 people per household will be allowed to gather for the Christmas and New Year holidays, relaxing the current general rule that permits gatherings of up to six people.

Curfews will be pushed back to 1:30 a.m. from 11 p.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, but movement between regions will be banned between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6, except for visits to family.

The government of Catalonia said it would not relax its restrictions on Dec. 7 as planned, prompting some ski slopes to postpone their opening next week, but would allow free movement during the Christmas celebrations.



The federal government extended its lockdown measures due to expire on Dec. 20 until Jan. 10, but has 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.



Italians will not be able to attend a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and will be only allowed to move between regions in emergencies over the holiday period starting from Dec. 20. The government also asked Italians not to invite non-family members for traditional celebrations.

The government decided last month that ski resorts would be closed over the Christmas and New Year period.



Norwegians will be able to 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.



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.



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, has said it would make random border checks to stop people getting infected by crossing into countries where ski resorts remain open.



Belgian households will only be able to be in close contact with one extra person over Christmas. 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.



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.



Up to three households will be allowed to meet at home from Dec. 23 until Dec. 27, and people will be also able to meet in places of worship and in outdoor public places but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues. Shops will be also allowed to stay open for longer over Christmas and in January.



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.



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

Source: Reuters


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