Several European countries had warned that it is too early to make plans for Christmas and holiday travels, especially now that coronavirus cases continue to rise very fast. Authorities in Ireland and France have said it is too early to say whether travel plans can be made and would not advise citizens to travel at this stage. There are only six weeks left until the holidays, and restrictions and other measures are already in force in several countries, the BBC reports.
Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnel, has informed citizens to be prepared for restrictions on movement between different areas during the holidays in order to avoid overloading regional health structures. In 1-2 weeks, a temporary decision will be made about the situation, and it was clear that things can always change “just before Christmas.” Tegnel also said that “most” of the new cases of COVID-19 are currently the result of private celebrations. He said he hoped the ban on serving alcohol in restaurants after 10pm, which is due to take effect next weekend, would not lead to an increase in the number of private parties.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said there would be no easing of restrictions for at least another two weeks. “It would be irresponsible to ease the bans now,” Castex told a news conference. Under current restrictions, French people can only leave home to go to work (if they cannot work from home), shop for basic necessities, seek medical help or play sports for an hour a day. All non-essential shops, restaurants and bars are closed, but schools and kindergartens are open. Castex added that some stores may be allowed to reopen from December 1st, depending on the number of cases. However, he was adamant that bars and restaurants should remain closed – France is struggling with a sharp increase in coronavirus cases and now has more than 1.9 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In Italy, most of the country is under quarantine, but there are appeals for tougher measures as the number of ill ones and deaths continues to rise. Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia said people should celebrate Christmas only with their loved ones.