Some European countries have decided to "save Christmas" and ease the lockdown for a week, open all shops, allow families and friends to gather, and attend church services. This mini-celebration only applies to family gatherings and does not apply to restaurants and pubs.
This is all despite the fact that now in the EU countries there are various restrictions even on leaving the house, the operation of shops, restaurants, etc.
In the UK, they decided to soften the lockdown for Christmas by five days so that people can visit relatives and spend the holidays with their families. But for the New Year, the quarantine will be returned.
In Scotland, England and Wales, it will be allowed to move freely around the country from 22 to 27 December, and for residents of Northern Ireland from 23 to 28 December.
People from three households will be allowed to gather in religious institutions, on the street, and at home. It is forbidden to meet in pubs and restaurants.
From December 23 to December 27, the recommendations on social distancing inside houses for residents of united households will also be canceled – people will be allowed to hug their relatives.
Also, for those arriving in England from December 15, self-isolation will be halved. Instead of two weeks, you can now stay at home for only 5 days, subject to a PCR test for coronavirus. For private companies, the test will cost 65-120 pounds. As a rule, the result will be known in 24-48 hours.
The French authorities are planning to ease the strict quarantine before Christmas as early as 28 November.
Prime Minister Jean Castex noted earlier that if people responsibly observe quarantine and the epidemiological situation is favorable, there will be relief before the Christmas holidays until the opening of restaurants.
Now the restrictions are very strict in the country: you can only leave your home to go to work, go to the doctor, help a loved one, or walk near your home (you can walk 1 km away and no more than an hour).
The easing will take place gradually in three stages:
The first stage starts on November 28. It will be possible to play sports outside for up to 3 hours a day and at a distance of up to 20 km from home. Shops will open that sell non-essential goods, such as clothes, toys. Religious services are allowed for no more than 30 people.
Further, in the second stage, from December 15, the authorities expect that then the number of new cases will decrease by 5,000 every day. Cinemas and theaters will be allowed to open, but the curfew will be in effect from 21:00 to 07:00.
The strongest weakening can begin on January 20, but only if the number of infections is less than 5,000 per day. Restaurants and gyms will be opened, education in schools and universities will resume.
Shops in the country have postponed Black Friday by one week due to the epidemiological situation. The decision was announced by Economy Minister Bruno Le Mer in a joint statement with supermarkets, retail chains, and platforms including Amazon.
Earlier, the French government made concessions and declared the trees "essential goods."
In Germany, the situation with the coronavirus is disappointing: a record number of deaths from Covid-19 - 410 - were recorded per day. 18 thousand 663 people were infected in the last day. In total, 961,320 infections have been registered since the beginning of the pandemic.
Despite this, the heads of government of 16 federal states agreed on a draft resolution, easing restrictions on the period of celebrating Christmas and New Year.
The document should be coordinated with Chancellor Angela Merkel today. It provides:
- Extension of the hard lockdown until December 20. This should first slow down the pandemic;
- private gatherings before Christmas will be limited to a maximum of five people;
- from November 23 to January 1, up to 10 people will be allowed to gather;
- increasing the capacity of the state railroad Deutsche Bahn during the winter months. Seats will be sold only at the window so that passengers do not contact;
- fireworks in public places will be banned on New Year's Eve to avoid crowds;
- extension of assistance to businesses affected by the lockdown until December.
European Commission and WHO are against
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned this morning that an early easing of measures for Christmas could put countries at risk of a "third wave" of coronavirus.
“I know shopkeepers, bartenders, and restaurant waiters want to end the restrictions. But we must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes,” she said.
Also, officials are concerned about the situation at ski resorts that were responsible for the outbreaks of Covid-19 cases in Europe in the early days of the pandemic. Tourists have been asked to cancel their mountain holidays this year and resorts have been asked to close.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned about easing quarantine during the Christmas holidays in regions with an unfavorable epidemiological situation. The corresponding statement was made by the Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program Michael Ryan, Deutsche Welle reports.
"If the country does not have the necessary infrastructure and the authorities are unable to track the contacts of infected people and isolate them, then the weakening will lead to a sharp increase in the number of infections," Ryan said.
At the same time, he pointed to the possible negative consequences of maintaining strict quarantine restrictions for Christmas.
"If people do not have an opportunity to meet, for many it will cause despondency and depression, which can lead to" fatigue from restrictive measures "and, possibly, subsequent protest against them," predicted a WHO spokesman.
What will happen in Ukraine?
While the world governments do not allow the Grinch to steal Christmas, Ukraine might tighten the lockdown restrictions during the holidays. Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said that the country was preparing a response plan and could introduce quarantine during the winter holidays.
This is all because on holidays there are meetings, fairs, close contacts between people, and all this can give an impetus to an outbreak of disease, which the medical system cannot withstand.
"The government does not hide and says openly that we are developing a response plan in the event of a worsening of the situation because our steps must be understandable and predictable for people and business," Shmygal added.
The only thing that pleases: from today, the decision of the Verkhovna Rada came into force, obliging the Cabinet of Ministers to warn in advance about the introduction of quarantine (no later than 7 calendar days before the start of their action).
In addition, earlier Minister of Culture of Ukraine Oleksandr Tkachenko proposed to introduce a two-week lockdown for the period of New Year and Christmas holidays. He said that it was necessary to introduce a lockdown and a refusal from public events and meet the holidays online. He also added that the government should help everyone who suffers financially in the face of unemployment.
As for the program of celebrations and lockdown, in some Ukrainian cities - for example, in Vinnytsia - the city authorities decided not to establish the main city Christmas tree. All celebrations were moved to the online format.
Kyiv residents will celebrate the New Year without concerts and mass celebrations. The Christmas tree on Sofiyska Square will be artificial, its height is 31 m. The theme of the New Year's celebration - 2021 - "Fairy Forest", so instead of a star on the Christmas tree there will be a hat. On holidays, two skating rinks can be opened (on Podil and near the Arch of Friendship of Peoples).