- BBC World News
The increase in infections of a new strain of the coronavirus changed the Christmas and New Year plans of more than 16 million people in the United Kingdom.
The country was preparing to ease its restrictions during the holidays, but this Saturday, the government made a different decision before the advance of a new variant of the virus, which appears to be spreading faster, although it is not more deadly than others.
Health authorities said the new mutation was proving to be up to 70% more transmissible.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this strain “was out of control”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered residents of London and other parts of southeastern England to stay at home and prohibited them from meeting anyone who did not live in the same home for two weeks.
In addition, he ordered the closure of non-essential products and services stores.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Ireland, Austria, Germany, France and Bulgaria announced the suspension of flights from the United Kingdom due to this new strain, and Spain is considering similar measures.
Rail connections between British soil and the rest of the European territory were also suspended, as well as the circulation of trucks.
The European Union will decide on more coordinated measures starting this Monday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is in “close contact” with UK authorities to monitor the new variant.
He noted that British authorities were sharing information on ongoing studies on this mutation, and that the WHO will inform member states and the public “as we learn more about the characteristics of this variant of the virus and any implications” .
On the night of this Sunday, thousands of people attended the London train stations and airports to try to leave before the new restrictions came into force, finding in many cases that the trips had been canceled.
But the UK is not the only country in Europe to tighten its coronavirus restrictions for Christmas.
Here we tell you what some other countries on the continent are doing to prevent infections, amid the uncertainty due to the new variant of the virus detected.
The Dutch government was the first to ban flights to the UK, until January 1. It did so after detecting a case of the same British strain of coronavirus.
The Dutch authorities said they will work with other countries that are part of the European Union to “explore the possibilities of further limiting the risk of the new strain of virus arriving from the United Kingdom.”
The country set a new record this Thursday by reporting more than 13,000 new cases in 24 hours, despite applying tough measures since December 15.
The population is serving a five-week quarantine, until January 19, and schools and stores of non-essential products and services will be closed, until mid-January.
This country has experienced a record number of infections and deaths in December, and intensive care units are filling up.
From December 16, and at least until January 10, the government imposed a new quarantine and closed schools and non-essential stores.
Meetings are limited to a maximum of five people from two households and, for Christmas alone, an additional four close family members will be allowed.
On December 15, this country replaced the quarantine with a national curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., until at least January 20.
This restriction will be lifted on Christmas Eve, but will remain in place for New Years.
Bars, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and ski resorts will be closed.
Current rules allow households to be visited by at most one person (always the same person), the so-called “close contact”.
On December 24 and 25, people who live alone will be able to receive their close contact and one other person at the same time.
Fireworks will be banned on New Years and the curfew will run from midnight to 5 am.
Italy imposed a national quarantine until January 6. Italians will not be able to leave the house more than once a day, people will be able to travel only for a limited number of reasons, and non-essential service stores, restaurants and bars will be closed.
In addition, the government imposed a curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Homes may receive a maximum of two visitors during certain dates.
The first case of the UK variant was also detected in Italy, as reported Sunday by the Ministry of Health. The patient is isolated in Rome.
Italy has recorded the highest number of deaths from covid-19 in Europe, with more than 68,000.
Spain is under a national curfew between 23:00 and 06:00 until the beginning of May 2021.
From December 23 to January 6, travel between regions will only be allowed to visit friends and family.
Social gatherings on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years will be limited to 10 people, including children (up from the current limit of six people).
Austria will enter its third quarantine after Christmas.
As of December 26, all non-essential stores will be closed and people’s outings from their homes will be restricted.
Sweden recommended the use of masks in public transport during rush hours, marking a change from its previous measures.
It’s breadhe had been one of the few who did not recommend the use of masks in public outside health centers.
The government will also reduce the number of people who can sit together in a restaurant, from eight to four per table, and will ban the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. until the end of February.
Sweden, which never imposed a full blockade, has recorded nearly 360,000 cases and 8,000 deaths, far more than its Scandinavian neighbors.
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