Europe Prepares for the Most Unusual Christmas in its History
There is just one month left before Catholic and Protestant Christmas. At the same time, the COVID-19 morbidity rate, which, according to scientists, has fallen in Europe, is moderately encouraging. However, with the pandemic, traditional holidays, family holidays and Christmas customs may turn into a real headache for the authorities and the health care system.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be holding a special « Christmas » meeting with federal state prime ministers. During the summit, politicians intend to agree on measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, which will remain in force in Germany until the end of the year, and, most, importantly at Christmas. Berlin is expected to limit meetings to ten people between 23 December and 1 January. Restrictions such as the closing of bars and restaurants, as well as cultural facilities, will be extended.
As Christmas approaches, European politicians are not very cheerful. « According to all data on the infection, it is clear that the state of emergency will not end until the end of the year. This means that Christmas and New Year’s Eve will be celebrated quietly, only in the family, » says Ilze Viņķele, the Latvian Minister of Health. Alas, as everywhere else in the world, it will not be a holiday in its usual format, » warned Olivier Veran, Head of the French Ministry of Health, « This year it is difficult to imagine big parties on New Year’s Eve. But our goal is to give people the opportunity to make the necessary purchases on time, to prepare for the New Year in a good mood, so that all the conditions are created to allow families to reunite.
And the Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, warned his fellow citizens that it is not worth rushing to the mountains during the Christmas holidays to go skiing. The authorities have not yet taken any chances to close down the resorts completely.
Restrictions will also remain outside the ski slopes. In Luxembourg, cafes and restaurants, gyms and part of the commerce are being closed. In the Czech Republic, the lower house of parliament extended the existing restrictions until 12 December (however, the government has proposed to extend them almost until Christmas, until 20 December).
However, it is precisely the measures that have been taken that have made it possible to quickly reduce morbidity rates in Europe and in individual countries to move to the next phase, i.e. the easing of restrictions.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the first to announce the abolition of the lockdown this week. In England, where the most stringent measures have been in place so far, a three-tier system of restrictions (depending on the incidence rate in a particular area) will be introduced from 2 December, which « will last until spring ».
source: reuters.com, bbc.com, lemonde.fr