As COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise in Europe, several countries have entered another lockdown and re-implemented restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus that has extended into holiday time.
Nightly curfews are in effect in most countries, along with restrictions about gatherings. Although most of these measures will be relaxed for the Christmas holiday period, each country has their own rules about how people will be able to celebrate during the pandemic.
Below is a breakdown of new COVID-19 restrictions for several European countries ahead of the holidays.
On Dec. 15, France eased lockdown restrictions that had been in place since October.
As Christmas approaches, the government recommends that gatherings are kept to a maximum of six adults, although that is just a recommendation and not a rule.
“We know that the gatherings over the holidays present a risk,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said, The Local France reported. “For all these reasons we need to keep our guard up, stay vigilant. . . and let everyone benefit from the holidays, but without risking provoking an epidemic resurgence.”
Previously, residents were required to fill out an “attestation” permission slip before they left home, detailing their route and intent. The rule has since been lifted.
A nightly curfew remains in place and residents must remain in their homes from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Those who are out during curfew hours must carry an "attestation." The curfew will be lifted on Dec. 24 but not Dec. 31.
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Bars and restaurants will remain closed through Christmas, until at least Jan. 20. Cultural centres like cinemas and theatres will remain closed until at least Jan. 7. Ski resorts may be permitted to reopen in January.
International travel and travel between regions is once again permitted. Masks remain compulsory when in public.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a “hard” lockdown ahead of Christmas, which will last through at least Jan. 10, according to The BBC.
Schools, retail stores and businesses like hair salons have been ordered to close. Restaurants are only allowed to operate takeout and no eating or drinking can take place onsite.
Indoor meetings are restricted to a maximum of five adults. The only exception is on Christmas Day, when one household can invite a maximum of four close family members from other households.
Germany has also banned the sale of fireworks to celebrate New Year’s (to prevent any unnecessary visits to the hospital while they’re battling COVID-19) and banned all public outdoor gatherings on New Year’s Eve.
Additionally, the festive Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, was canceled for the first time since World War II.
Many Italian regions will remain on partial lockdown through the holidays, with a ban on travel between regions announced from Dec. 31 through Jan. 6. Travel outside of hometowns will not be permitted on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day.
The country is also under a curfew, with residents to remain in their homes from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. every night.
The government may announce even stricter measures this week. "We are discussing the two weeks over the Christmas holidays," Health Minister Roberto Speranza told reporters on Monday, The Local Italy reported. "I hope that further measures can be taken in a short time to avert a hypothetical third wave".
Across Spain, the country has imposed rules for the holiday period from Dec. 23 through Jan. 6, but regional governments may strengthen the restrictions. Travel between regions during this time is permitted to visit friends and family, The BBC reported.
Social gatherings are limited to 10 people, including children. A nightly curfew is in effect from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the curfew will not start until 1:30 a.m.
Belgium’s coronavirus cases peaked in late October, when the country was reporting more than 20,000 new daily cases. That number has remained less than 5,000 since the start of December.
Non-essential shops were permitted to reopen but bars and restaurants must remain closed until Jan. 15.
A curfew is in effect in major cities from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m.
On Dec. 24 and 25, households will be allowed close contact with one additional person and the curfew will be pushed back until midnight.
Belgium could announce new Christmas restrictions this week, according to The Brussels Times.
The Netherlands have entered a strict five-week lockdown, due to last until Jan. 19.
Bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-October, but that has not done much to slow the spread of coronavirus infections. Schools and non-essential shops were ordered closed this week and citizens have been instructed to avoid nonessential overseas travel until mid-March.
From Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, restrictions will be ever-so-slightly lifted, with households allowed to welcome three guests instead of two (not counting children younger than 13), The Associated Press reported.
"We have to bite this very sour apple before things get better,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced to the country this week. “And yes they will get better. There will come a time when coronavirus will be behind us, when our lives will be normal again. It won't be now, or in a week, or a month. But with the vaccine, 2021 will indeed be a year of hope and of light at the end of the tunnel."
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at caileyrizzo.com.
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