Dec 20, 2020

Lockdowns across Europe during Xmas season Featured

Ahead of the Christmas holiday next week, several European countries have introduced tougher Covid-19 precautionary measures before and after the holiday.

Nationwide lockdown in Italy

Italy has ordered a nationwide lockdown over much of the Christmas and New Year period in an effort to combat a rise in Covid-19 cases.

The "red-zone" restrictions will be in place across Italy on 24 to 27 December, 31 December to 3 January, and 5 to 6 January.

The country will be under "red-zone" restrictions over the public holidays, with non-essential shops, restaurants and bars closed, and Italians only allowed to travel for work, health and emergency reasons. Limited home visits will be allowed.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said it was "not an easy decision". "Our experts were seriously worried that there would be a jump in cases over Christmas... We therefore had to act," he said in a news conference.

Italy has recorded the highest Covid death toll in Europe, with close to 68,000 fatalities.

Tighter Covid-19 rules in UK

The UK has outlined tighter Covid-19 rules for the Christmas season in the wake of a new variant of coronavirus.

In a media conference on Saturday, PM Boris Johnson announced tier four restrictions for London and the South East England.

The whole of Wales is to be placed under lockdown from midnight Saturday with festive plans cancelled for all but Christmas Day.

Northern Ireland has announced a post-Christmas lockdown while the Scottish government has said "all options" remain on the table ahead of a review on Tuesday.

The planned five-day relaxation of Covid restrictions over the festive period has been cut back to just Christmas Day for the whole of Scotland – with advice to avoid any social mixing. Cross-border travel will no longer be permitted, but travelling within Scotland will be allowed on Christmas Day only.

More lockdowns across EU

The Netherlands and Germany have imposed lockdowns until January. In Germany, Christmas will see a slight easing, with one household allowed to host up to four close family members.

In Austria, the government said on Friday the country would enter its third lockdown after Christmas. From 26 December, non-essential shops will be shut and movement outside homes restricted.

Sweden has recommended wearing face masks on public transport during the rush hour, reversing its earlier guidance. It will also cut from the current eight to four per table the number of people sitting together in restaurants, and ban alcohol sales after 20:00.

PMs of EU self-isolate

Meanwhile, Prime ministers of several prime ministers who attended an EU summit with French president - Emmanuel Macron last week, have self-isolated after the French leader tested positive for Covid-19.

European leaders who were also at the summit, including the prime ministers of Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg, said they would self-isolate.

Slovakia's Prime Minister Igor Matovic, who also attended the summit said he had tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.

(Excerpts : BBC News)