FACTBOX-Not so Merry Christmas looms for coronavirus-hit Europe

by Reuters
Tuesday, 15 December 2020 14:45 GMT

(Adds Britain, Czech Republic, Poland and the Netherlands)

Dec 15 (Reuters) - 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 measures that will be adopted for year-end festivities by some European countries:

POLAND

A senior government official appealed to Poles to stay at home over Christmas and New Year and said coronavirus restrictions, with schools, restaurants and sports centres shut, could not be eased yet.

THE NETHERLANDS

The nation has gone into a hard five-week lockdown. Gatherings are limited to two people with a temporary relief raising the limit to three adult visitors over three days around Christmas.

BRITAIN

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

London is moving into the highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions on Dec. 16, but up to three households will still be allowed to meet at home from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Restaurants, hotels and indoor sports venues, which reopened only two weeks ago, will shut again from Dec. 18, and an 11 p.m. curfew will be in place.

GERMANY

Germany will only keep essential shops open, from Dec. 16 until at least Jan. 10. Private gatherings will remain limited to no more than five people from two households, with rules to be eased over the Christmas holidays when up to 10 people will be allowed to gather, not counting children.

DENMARK

Restaurants, museums, cinemas and other cultural institutions will be closed in 69 of 98 municipalities, including Copenhagen, until Jan. 3, affecting almost 80% of the population.

ITALY

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.

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.

GREECE

Hair salons and bookstores will reopen during Christmas, while other restrictions will remain in place until Jan. 7.

Churches will open for the Christmas and Epiphany masses on Dec. 25 and Jan. 6, with a limited number of worshippers.

FRANCE

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.

HUNGARY

The country cancelled New Year's Eve celebrations and restrictions, including a 7 p.m. curfew, will last until at least Jan. 11.

PORTUGAL

There will be no limit on how many people can gather per household for Christmas. The 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.

SPAIN

Up to 10 people per household - up from six now - will be allowed to gather for Christmas and New Year.

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.

NORWAY

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 will apply.

AUSTRIA

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

BELGIUM

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 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.

(Compiled by Elizaveta Gladun, Aida Pelaez-Fernandez and Veronica Snoj in Gdansk, Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Ed Osmond)

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