News World Not so Merry Christmas looms for coronavirus-hit Europe

Not so Merry Christmas looms for coronavirus-hit Europe

Governments across Europe are trying to navigate between avoiding spreading the coronavirus over the Christmas holiday season and allowing people to celebrate with family and friends.

Here are some measures that will be adopted for year-end festivities by some European countries:


The Czech government starting Dec. 18 will launch free, voluntary testing for all citizens using rapid-result antigen tests to make family visits over Christmas safer.


Hair salons and bookstores will reopen during Christmas, other restrictions continuing until Jan. 7, with a curfew in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and restrictions on movement between regions until next month, the government said on Dec. 7.

It added that churches would open for the Christmas and Epiphany masses on Dec. 25 and Jan. 6, with a limited number of worshippers.


France will lift its stay-at-home order on Dec. 15 and replace it with a nightly curfew, which will be waived for Christmas Eve.


Italians will not be able to attend a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and will be only allowed to move between regions in emergencies over the holiday period starting on Dec. 20. Swiss-Italian train routes were halted from Dec. 10 as the requirements for travel exceed the capacity of train personnel.

Pope Francis’s Christmas Eve Mass will start two hours earlier, allowing the limited number of people who can attend to be home by 10 p.m.


The government extended on Dec. 8 the limit of three adult visitors per household by one month until Jan. 15. Restaurants and bars will remain closed. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he didn’t exclude announcing further measures before Christmas.


Restaurants, museums, cinemas and other cultural institutions will close in 38 of 98 municipalities, including Copenhagen, from Dec. 9 until Jan. 3.


Germany will have to impose tougher coronavirus restrictions before Christmas. In November, the federal government extended its lockdown measures until Jan. 10, but eased rules over the Christmas holidays. Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather, not counting children.


Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Dec. 7 there would be no New Year’s Eve celebrations. The country will maintain restrictions, including a 7 p.m. curfew, until at least Jan. 11.


There will be no limit on how many people will be able to gather per household for Christmas. The night-time curfew will be pushed back from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. For New Year’s Eve, street parties will be banned and outdoor gatherings limited to a maximum of six people.


Up to 10 people per household will be allowed to gather for Christmas and New Year, relaxing the current rule that permits gatherings of up to six people.

Curfews will be pushed back to 1:30 a.m. from 11 p.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Movement between regions will be banned between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6, except for visits to family.


Norwegians will be able to invite up to 10 guests into their homes on two separate occasions between Christmas and New Year. Outside those days, the current limit of up to five guests in one home will apply.


Skiing will be allowed from Dec. 24, but there will be no Christmas markets this holiday season.


Belgian households will only be able to be in close contact with one extra person over Christmas. People living on their own will be able to meet two others. Fireworks will be banned on New Year’s Eve to limit gatherings and foreign travel is strongly discouraged.

IRELAND Three households will be allowed to meet between Dec. 18 and Jan. 6, and the countrywide travel ban will be lifted for that period.


Up to three households will be allowed to meet at home from Dec. 23 until Dec. 27. People will be able to meet in places of worship and in outdoor public places but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues. Shops will be allowed to stay open for longer over Christmas and in January.

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