Italy and the Netherlands are set to impose tough new anti-coronavirus measures before the holidays, as Germany, already facing a tough Christmas lockdown, warned their restrictions would not be likely to ease early of the new year.
Italian media reported that the government could place the whole country under the so-called “red zone” lockdown from Christmas Eve to at least January 2, amid growing fears of a possible increase in infections over the course of the year. holiday season does not cease.
The measures, which are expected to be announced later today, could include extending nighttime curfews, banning non-essential movement, closing all but non-essential shops and closing all bars and restaurants. weekends and public holidays.
Italy reported 484 more Covid-19 deaths on Sunday, overtaking Britain as the country with the highest death toll in Europe – as crowds of shoppers continued to flock to city centers after partial relaxation of restrictions.
“The crowds are unjustifiable, irrational, irresponsible,” the regional affairs minister told La Repubblica, adding that “business and health are simply not reconcilable at the moment”.
Earlier this month, the government banned travel during the holiday season except for work, health or emergency reasons, preventing Italians from leaving their hometowns on Christmas, Boxing Day or Christmas Day. the year The midnight mass on December 24 was moved forward so that worshipers could observe a 10 p.m. curfew.
Italy’s expected move follows a similar move by Germany, which announced on Sunday it would close all stores except essential stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as hair and hair salons. beauty, from Wednesday to January 10 at least as she battles “exponential growth” in infections.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier urged citizens to give up Christmas shopping altogether, telling people to “only buy what they really need, like groceries”, while the head of Angela Merkel’s cabinet said that a “global easing” of the new measures would be “very, very unlikely” in January or February.
Merkel had hoped that a ‘lockdown lite’ imposed in November would reduce infection levels so that Germans could celebrate Christmas and New Years almost normally, but the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases (RKI) reported on Monday more 16,000 new cases, 4,000 more. seven days ago.
Hospitals across the country have warned they are reaching their limits and schools across the country must close or switch to home schooling from Wednesday. The number of people allowed to meet inside remains at five, except on Christmas Day.
Senior officials called on people to stay home and watch traditional Christmas mass online. East Saxony state governor Michael Kretschmer said it would be the first time in his life that he would not attend mass on December 24.
“I don’t need it for my conviction and I think it’s fair that we all stay away during this sensitive time,” Kretschmer said. “Joseph and Mary were also alone on the holy night.”
The Netherlands is also expected to announce strict anti-coronavirus measures in the run-up to Christmas, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte due to address the nation at 7 p.m. and widely expected to announce restrictions, possibly including the shutdown from all non-essential stores. , theaters and museums.
The expected tightening follows a crisis cabinet meeting over the weekend to discuss the country’s rapidly rising figures, with nearly 10,000 new infections reported on Sunday.
Britain is set to maintain its rules around Christmas despite scientists and government advisers urging people to rethink their plans and ignore the easing of Covid rules amid fears over increased cases and hospitalizations in some parts of the UK.
The ‘Christmas bubbles’ allow three households to mingle between December 23 and 27, but experts have warned the government is sending the wrong message by saying families should just ‘follow the rules’, suggesting it could lead to a third wave.