After a brief and partial relaxation of the rules over Christmas and New Years, many continental European countries have returned to the harsh anti-Covid regimes that were imposed this fall, with some stricter measures.
According to the last update of the World Health Organization, in the last week of 2020 the United Kingdom had a rate of notification of new cases in 14 days of 720 per 100,000 people, more than double that of France, Germany, Italy and Spain, but lower than the Czech Republic. Holland, Sweden and Denmark.
France (infection rate 277.5 / 100,000) lifted its second national closure on December 15, and non-essential stores were allowed to reopen, but cafes, restaurants, gyms, cinemas and theaters remained closed. It was replaced by a nationwide curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. that was eased for Christmas (but not New Years). The curfew has been brought forward two hours by 15 departments, mainly in eastern France, with schools returning for the new term as usual on Monday.
Germany (379.1 / 100,000) has been in a second lock down since November 2. The restrictions, which began as a “closing light” with only restaurants, bars and entertainment venues closed and some soft rules for social gatherings, tightened in the lead up to Christmas. Since December 16, non-essential stores have also been closed, schools and day care centers only offer emergency care, and social gatherings are limited to another home or a maximum number of five people over the age of 14. The shutdown is expected to last until the end of January.
Netherlands (907 / 100.00) bars and restaurants closed in mid-October, with non-essential shops and businesses, gyms, museums, cinemas and theaters on December 15. After a little Christmas relaxation, people are again advised to stay home and only have a maximum of two guests a day. Working from home and daycare is highly recommended and all schools, colleges and universities will be closed, except for the children of key workers, until at least January 19.
Sweden (815 / 100.00), whose largely voluntary approach has been an outlier, last month banned bars and restaurants from serving alcohol after 8pm; groups limited to four in restaurants; ordered stores and gyms to establish a maximum number of clients; brought 16+ education back online; non-essential closed public services such as swimming pools and libraries; and face masks recommended on public transport at peak times. A new law aimed at making it easier for the government to impose new restrictions should take effect on January 10.
Poland (330.6 / 100,000) introduced a strict three-week shutdown on December 28, with nonessential stores closing and all arrivals from abroad forced to isolate for 10 days. Public meetings are limited to five people.
In Hungary (335.6 / 100,000), all shops remain open, but the country’s borders are closed to almost all visitors, including citizens of other EU nations, and a nightly curfew is in effect between 8pm and 5 am
Spain (271.7 / 100,000) has imposed regional restrictions, Catalonia being one of the strictest: as of Thursday, the exit from its municipality is prohibited, gyms and shopping centers must close, and only essential stores can remain open on weekends of week. Bars and restaurants may be open for breakfast and lunch, but only offer take-out for dinner. Madrid, where the 14-day case rate is among the highest in the country, has refused to close nonessential restaurants or stores, opting instead for lilock down down of districts with a higher infection rate.
Italy (337.9 / 100,000) spent much of Christmas and New Years at home, and people were allowed out only for essential reasons or short visits to relatives. The rules will be relaxed starting Thursday, when the previous three-tier regional system returns. Restaurants and bars can open until 6pm on Thursdays and Fridays, but must close again on weekends, when the entire country will be classified as “red.” There remains a nationwide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and high schools won’t reopen (at 50% capacity) until at least next week.
Additional reportingAsiahifa Kassam, PhiAldermanmann, Angela Giuffrida and Shaun Walker
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism