As expected, the global coronavirus pandemic has overturned Europeans’ plans for the 2020 holiday season, as governments search for measures to prevent the further spread of Covid-19, while allowing citizens to celebrate with their families and friends as much as possible.
These are the measures that will be in force in some European countries during the Christmas and New Year holidays:
Greece has extended the lockdown until January 7, with up to 9 people allowed to gather together for Christmas and New Year. A curfew is imposed between 9 pm and 5 am and there is a ban on traveling outside home prefectures. Schools, restaurants, bars and ski resorts are closed.
The curfew will be relaxed and as a general rule, up to ten people will be allowed to gather together for Christmas and New Year, but each region may impose stricter rmeasures.
Travel between regions will be limited to visits to relatives and close friends between December 23 and January 6, unless stricter rules are imposed by region.
All shopping malls will be closed beginning on December 17, while other stores — with the exception of supermarkets and grocery stores — will be closed beginning on December 25, as part of a strict lockdown for the Christmas and New Year period.
The country will keep secondary schools, shopping malls, cafes, gyms and restaurants closed and visits by tourist groups will be banned until January 31st. However, hotel restaurants will reopen on December 22, with 50% of their capacity — but only until 10:00 PM.
On December 16, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Christmas gatherings would not be banned, despite pressure from some physicians not to allow such family get-togethers. Under the current framework, members of up to three households are allowed to meet in one house between December 23 to 27.
Members of the public can also meet in places of worship and outdoors, but not indoors, for entertainment and hospitality. Shops will be open during Christmas and January, but pubs and restaurants will be closed in London.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on December 15 that the government may need to tighten restrictions for Christmas; current strictures include measures prohibiting travel between regions beginning on December 20.
Pope Francis’ Christmas service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve will begin two hours earlier this year, so that those who attend it can be home by 10 PM.
A senior government official has called on Poles to stay home for Christmas and New Year, saying the current restrictions — with all schools, restaurants and sports centers now closed — could not be eased.
The country has entered a strict five-week lockdown, with gatherings for Christmas and New Year’s limited to two people from outside one’s household, a measure that will relax to include three adult guests for three days during the Christmas period.
Restaurants, hotels and indoor sports venues, which opened two weeks ago, will be closed again starting on December 18 at 11 PM.
Germany will keep only the necessary stores open from December 16 until at least January 10. Private gatherings will remain limited to up to five people from two households, while the rules will be relaxed on Christmas Day itself, as up to 10 people will be allowed to gather, excluding children.
French officials have announced that only Christmas Eve will be exempted from the nighttime traffic ban in the country.
The country has canceled all New Year’s Eve celebrations, and the restrictions now in force, including a 7 PM curfew, will last at least until January 11th.
There will be no limit to the number of people who can gather in a household for Christmas. The curfew will start later — at 2:00 in the morning instead of 11 at night — on December 24 and 25. However, for New Year’s Eve, outdoor parties will be banned and outdoor gatherings will be limited to six people.
Norwegians will be able to invite up to ten guests to their homes on two different occasions between Christmas and New Year. Apart from these days, the restriction of five guests continues to apply.
Households in Belgium will be able to be in close contact with one additional person at Christmas. Those who live alone will have the opportunity to gather together with two additional individuals. Fireworks will be prohibited on New Year’s Eve, and there is a strong recommendation to avoid traveling abroad.
From December 18 to January 6, members from three separate households will be allowed to gather together, while during the same period the travel ban inside the country will be lifted.