Countries across Europe have started announcing their plans to allow people to celebrate during the festive season under coronavirus restrictions - here’s a quick summary:
- Germany’s 16 federal states are likely to approve gatherings of a maximum of 10 people during the festive season, according to a draft proposal due to be discussed on Wednesday by state premiers and the country’s chancellor, Angela Merkel.
The mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, said he was confident the measures would be adopted, while two state premiers said there was further broad agreement to extend a national “lockdown light” until 20 December to make family gatherings possible.
- In France, president Emmanuel Macron announced a three-stage easing of the country’s month-long lockdown, beginning this weekend with the reopening of “non-essential” businesses such as hairdressers and clothes shops, which will have to observe strict distancing rules and close at 9pm.
Churches and some cultural venues will also be able to reopen from 1 December, with a maximum of 30 visitors, and people would be allowed to exercise within a 20km (12-mile) radius of their homes and for up to three hours, rather than the current 1km, one-hour limits.
Providing infection numbers have fallen to about 5,000 a day, lockdown will be formally lifted on 15 December, allowing holiday travel, Macron said – although a nationwide 9pm-7am curfew would be in force except on 24 and 31 December, and all private festive gatherings would be expected to observe strict distancing rules.
A third stage would begin from 20 January, Macron said, when bars, restaurants and clubs should be able to reopen.
- In the UK, families will be able to gather in three-household groups of any size over Christmas, bringing warnings from scientists that the plan will almost inevitably see a rise in the number of coronavirus cases. Ministers said the “Christmas bubbles” would require people to make a “personal judgment” over risk for older relatives and others. The new rules will allow people to travel around freely from 23 to 27 December, irrespective of what local tier of Covid restrictions they live in. The relaxation ends on 28 December, and all areas will immediately revert to their previous Covid rules, including over new year.
- The Spanish government is planning to limit festive gatherings to six people and to set a 1am to 6am curfew for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, according to a leaked document seen by Spanish newspapers. “With respect to family gatherings, we recommend they be limited to members of the same household. Should there be an external guest who does not usually live with the family, gatherings should include a maximum of six people and preventive measures must be followed,” the draft says.
- The Finnish capital, Helsinki, meanwhile, is introducing tough new restrictions after a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases, with high schools, libraries and swimming pools to be closed and public events banned outright. The Finnish prime minister, Sanna Marin, warned on Monday that a new state of emergency could be declared if regional measures proved ineffective.
- In Sweden, whose light-touch anti-lockdown approach has attracted international attention, the country’s health watchdog criticised “serious shortcomings” in nursing homes, which account for nearly half of Sweden’s 6,400 Covid-19 deaths.
- Russia’s deputy prime minister, Tatiana Golikova, said on Tuesday the country’s coronavirus situation was becoming “more complicated” with the onset of autumn and winter. Russia recorded a record 25,173 new daily infections on Monday.