Factbox: Not so Merry Christmas looms for coronavirus-hit Europe

·2-min read

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


Belgian households will only be able to be in close contact with one extra person over Christmas, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said. People living on their own will be able to meet two others. Fireworks will be banned on New Year's Eve to limit gatherings and foreign travel strongly discouraged.


President Emmanuel Macron said the government has decided to allow people to travel from Dec. 15, including the end-of-year holidays, if coronavirus cases drop to around 5,000 new cases per day.


Three households will be allowed to meet between Dec. 18 and Jan. 6, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said. The countrywide travel ban will be lifted for that period.


Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 states to extend and tighten the coronavirus lockdown until Dec. 20, but to ease rules over the Christmas holidays to let families and friends celebrate together. Up to 10 people will be allowed to gather, not counting children.


The Polish government said no more than five people could be invited to one household according to the new set of rules which are to last until Dec. 27. It also said there would be no more "senior hours" on Dec. 24 which currently allow only seniors to shop between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.


The four nations of the United Kingdom have agreed to relax COVID-19 restrictions for Christmas to allow up to three households to meet at home from Dec. 23 until Dec. 27, also allowing them to meet in places of worship and in outdoor public places but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he was relaxing rules to allow shops to stay open for longer over Christmas and in January.


Governments of Italy, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands have all said they were considering special rules for the holiday season, but have yet to announce specific steps.

(Compiled by Elizaveta Gladun, Aida Pelaez-Fernandez and Veronica Snoj, Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Angus MacSwan)