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France reopened non-essential shops this month, allowing Christmas shopping to begin. But an uptick in new infections since then means that while travel is permitted from 15 December, a nationwide 8pm to 7am curfew will begin then that will be lifted for 24 December, but not Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve. Bars and restaurants will not reopen until January and private gatherings are limited to six adults.
Germany extended its “lockdown lite” until early January, but amid a record surge in infections and deaths may have to shut down further before Christmas – possibly allowing people to leave home only for essential reasons and closing shops from 21 December. Private meetings are currently limited to five, a limit that should be raised to 10 from between 23 December and 1 January, but this may change.
Austria’s strict lockdown ends this month. The country is carrying out a mass programme of 10 million tests over the next fortnight with the aim of allowing more families to reunite over the festive period. Christmas markets have been cancelled.
Italy has banned inter-regional travel from 20 December to 6 January except for work, health or emergency reasons, and Italians may not leave their towns on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day. Midnight mass on 24 December will be brought forward so worshippers can get home before the country’s 10pm-5am curfew, and people arriving from EU countries must present a negative test.
Spain has appealed for people to be responsible but will allow movement between regions “for family reasons” between 23 December and 6 January. Regional curfews, which range from 10pm to midnight, will be pushed back to 1.30am on 24 and 31 December, when the limit for gatherings will be raised from six to 10, a measure that will also apply on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Authorities in the Netherlands have said current restrictions will not be relaxed for Christmas and may yet be strengthened if infections rise. Guests for Christmas dinner will be limited to three (excluding under-13s); cafes, bars and restaurants will remain shut except for takeaways; non-essential shops must close at 8pm and all non-essential travel is discouraged.
Belgium has said households may be in close contact with just one extra person over the Christmas period, although people living on their own will be allowed to meet two others. Fireworks are to be banned on New Year’s Eve to limit gatherings.
Poland will allow people to spend Christmas only with their immediate family, with no more than five guests to be invited to each household until at least 27 December and travel banned outside people’s home towns.
John Henley Europe correspondent
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK medical journals call for Christmas Covid rules to be reversed | Coronavirus