Coronavirus: As Christmas approaches, restrictions tighten in Europe

In an attempt to stem the coronavirus pandemic, European governments are tightening their restrictions. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that restaurants and bars now close from 6 p.m. (5 p.m. GMT), as well as all theaters, cinemas and sports halls for a month. An admission of failure, according to its detractors, while scientists wonder if this will be enough to stem the spread of the virus.

The coronavirus continues to spread across Europe and Spain has imposed a new state of emergency as well as nightly curfews. Catalonia (north-east) is even considering confinement of the population at home on weekends and the neighboring region of Aragon has decided to seal off its territory. France has, for its part, set a new sad daily record with more than 52,000 additional cases of Covid-19. The prospect of a new confinement is taking shape in the face of a second “brutal” wave which could even be “stronger than the first”, alarmed Jean-François Delfraissy, the president of the scientific council which guides the government.

Nuremberg Christmas market canceled

In Germany, the world famous Nuremberg Christmas market, which attracts some 2 million visitors, has been canceled this year. The Slovenian government for its part announced the tightening from Tuesday of the partial containment in force and strengthened border controls. In Norway, new restrictions will come into force in Oslo, where the compulsory wearing of a protective mask is notably extended. The capital’s bars, already forced to stop serving at midnight, will also no longer be able to accept new customers after 10 p.m. And, in Belgium, where the number of contaminations has tripled in five weeks, rising to 321,031 cases, the school holidays for All Saints’ Day have been extended and schools forced to adapt to the strong progression of the virus so as not to risk d ” aggravate an already “dramatic” situation in the care structures.

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The pandemic has killed at least 1.15 million people around the world since the end of December and nearly 43.1 million cases have been diagnosed, according to a count from Agence France-Presse. However, some see the end of the tunnel: Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, should come out of its confinement this week after about four months of restrictions which have been very expensive.

“Save Christmas! “

In contrast, the United States saw a record number of new cases of Covid-19 this weekend, with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden accusing President Donald Trump’s government of waving “the white flag of the defeat ”after admitting that he“ was not going to control the pandemic ”. The restrictions are also weighing on political life: in Germany, Angela Merkel’s conservative party has announced the postponement of its congress in early December to elect a new president and potential candidate for the chancellery in 2021, for lack of being able to bring together its delegates in due to a worsening of the pandemic.

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The European Union for its part decided to reduce the physical meetings of officials and experts, in favor of videoconferences, due to the increase in the number of contaminations in Brussels. The new restrictive measures are often unpopular, as in Italy where they deal a severe blow to sectors already hard hit after strict national containment last spring. But these measures “will allow us to be more serene by Christmas”, explained the Italian Prime Minister, while warning that the festive celebrations will still be out of the question at the end of the year.

“Stop! We have issued a decree to save you! »Giuseppe Conte launched Monday to Santa Claus preparing to commit suicide, in a satirical cartoon in one of the main daily newspaper of his country, Corriere della Sera. “With these new restrictions, we’re going to close. Our establishment is not located in a city center, we are in the provinces, our customers come in the evening or during the weekend, ”Giuseppe Tonon, 70, owner of a restaurant, told Agence France-Presse. in Oderzo, a small village in the northeast, the photo of which has made the rounds on social networks. According to the FIPE-Confcommercio union, the new Italian measures will cost the restaurant industry around 2.7 billion euros more.

Angry Welsh

The new measures decided by the Italian government have been severely criticized. “It has been eight months that he (the government, Editor’s note) has been sailing on sight with the Prime Minister who signs a decree every four days to appear on television”, accused Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Fratelli d’Italia party ( FDI, far right). For Matteo Salvini, the boss of the League (far right), the main Italian party, “the new restrictions are madness, a confinement that does not say its name”.

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In Wales, the restrictions have also caused anger and confusion. No right to buy books or baby clothes, even in open stores: confined since Friday and limited to purchases of “essential” products, more than 65,000 Welsh people signed a petition on Monday demanding the abandonment of these rules deemed “disproportionate”.

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