Covid: How are European countries tackling the pandemic?

Image rightsReuters

Most European countries put lockdown measures in place earlier this year to combat new spikes in infections and deaths.

While some begin to relax restrictions, others extend lockdowns or introduce new regional measures.

France: New closure on the Riviera and on the north coast

France has a curfew between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Shops and stores must be closed and everyone must be at home.

Schools are open with additional tests. Bars, restaurants, theaters, cinemas and ski areas will remain closed.

France closed its borders to all non-EU countries from January 31st, although freight forwarders are exempt.

In addition to nationwide restrictions, measures are being taken to lock down weekends in parts of the French Riviera, including Nice and Cannes, as well as parts of the north coast.

People need written permission stating why they won’t be there from Friday evening to Monday morning.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionThe Paris bars have been closed since mid-October

Germany: Gradual reopening

Germany started lifting some restrictions in mid-December.

In most federal states, shops and museums are allowed to reopen. However, the exact rules for the number of visitors will depend on the local infection rate.

People from one household can meet privately with another household, but this is limited to five adults plus children.

Hairdressers have already reopened and cosmetic and nail bars, beauty salons, massage and tattoo studios can reopen from March 8th.

In shops and public transport, people can no longer wear homemade cloth masks or scarves as face covers. Clinical masks are now required, e.g. B. surgical disposable masks or filter respirators (so-called FFP2 masks).

Greece: Different restrictions depending on the level of infection

A strict lockdown since November helped contain a renewed surge in infections, and kindergartens, elementary schools and shops were allowed to reopen in January.

From the end of January, new lockdown measures were introduced in areas with high infection rates – the “red zones”, which include Athens. Shops, schools, hairdressers and beauty salons that are not absolutely necessary are closed again.

In Athens, Thessaloniki and Halkidiki there is a curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on weekdays and from 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on weekends, while in other “red zones” the curfew begins at 6:00 p.m. .

Image rightsAnadolu Agency via Getty ImagesImage descriptionAthens is a “red zone” with strict restrictions

Italy: Regional and national lockdown measures continue

A nationwide curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. remains in place, travel between Italy’s 20 regions is prohibited, and the wearing of masks is mandatory in public both indoors and outdoors across the country.

The country is divided into red, orange, yellow and white zones depending on the local infection rate.

Secondary school students were allowed to return to some personal lessons, but in red zones (currently three out of 20 regions in Italy) all schools and kindergartens are closed.

Restaurants and museums in red zones are also closed. In the yellow zones, bars and restaurants can now again serve their customers at tables and counters until 6:00 p.m.

In the orange zones, restaurants and bars are closed except for food stalls.

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionSchools are open in Italy, but masks are compulsory

The Czech Republic: tightened lockdown

The Czech Republic, one of the worst hit countries in the EU, is tightening its lockdown.

The new measures include closing kindergartens and schools for younger children and people with disabilities, a ban on movement between districts, and mandatory mass tests for factory and company employees that remain open.

Spain: curfew and other measures continue

Spain is under a nationwide curfew until early May 2021.

People are only allowed to go to work, receive further training, buy medication or look after the elderly or children during this time.

People over the age of six must wear face-covering for public transportation and indoor public spaces nationwide. In many regions they are also compulsory outdoors.

Belgium: lockdown continues

The lockdown in Belgium was extended until April 1st.

All non-essential travel is prohibited.

A maximum of one person is allowed to visit your home (always the same person), and the rule of four remains in place for outdoor meetings.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionMasks must be worn everywhere in Belgium

Schools and shops are open, but people have to shop on their own and are not allowed to stay in a shop for more than 30 minutes.

Masks have to be worn everywhere.

Portugal: New lock in progress

Mainland Portugal imposed a new lockdown on January 15th for the first time since the beginning of May.

Remote working is mandatory, non-essential shops and services must be closed, and cafes and restaurants can only be taken away and delivered to your home.

Schools are also closed to most children. The lockdown is expected to last until at least March 16.

Image rightsEPAImage descriptionLockdown in Lisbon

Netherlands: some easing measures

The government has announced the easing of some restrictions.

From March 1st, secondary school students will have at least one day of instruction in the school.

Hairdressers and other professions with close contact (except sex workers) can reopen from March 3rd. Young people and adults up to the age of 27 can play team sports outside and shops can be opened to customers by appointment.

The curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., which sparked riot when it was introduced, will remain in place until March 15.

The government does not recommend booking trips abroad until at least March 31st.

Denmark: Gradual lifting of restrictions

The Danish government is expected to lift some lockdown restrictions.

From March 1st, some shops will be allowed to reopen and outdoor activities such as sports can be resumed for a maximum of 25 people.

Older students are allowed to return to classrooms in regions with lower infection rates.

Denmark has been on lockdown since December when all shops and businesses except supermarkets and pharmacies were closed. The schools were only open to younger elementary school children.

Image rightsEPA-EFEImage descriptionPassengers wear face masks on the Copenhagen Metro

Ireland: Highest restriction still

Ireland returned to a full lockdown in late December after travel rules were relaxed over Christmas.

The highest restrictions – level five – currently apply until April 5th.

People must stay home except for travel, work, education, or other important reasons, or exercise within 5 km (3.1 miles) of home.

Visitors are not allowed to enter private houses or gardens unless this is for the care of children, the elderly or those in need of protection. Weddings are limited to six people and funerals are limited to 10 people.

All non-essential shops, gyms, pools, and recreational facilities are closed. Restaurants, pubs and cafes only offer takeaways and deliveries.

Sweden: Government’s new coronavirus powers

Sweden tried to avoid making rules when other countries were in lockdown, but a new emergency law went into effect on January 10.

It gave the government the power to impose coronavirus-related curbs for the first time.

So far, the Swedish government has relied mainly on the public voluntarily, following official health recommendations.

Current national guidelines require passengers to wear face masks on public transport during rush hour, but some regions now recommend them outside of rush hour as well.

Alcohol is not allowed to be sold after 8:00 p.m., and restaurants can seat a maximum of four people at one table.

No more than eight people are allowed to attend public gatherings or events.

Other restrictions such as company closures are being considered.


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