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COVID-19: What are Europe’s Christmas coronavirus rules? | World News

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People do Christmas shopping in Eindhoven ahead of the new restrictions

Some European countries are tightening restrictions over the coming weeks – while others are relaxing them for Christmas.

In many nations, coronavirus cases are rising again after dipping at the end of November.

These are the COVID-19 restrictions and Christmas rules around the continent:

The Netherlands

A second lockdown starts on Tuesday for at least five weeks.

Dutch households will not be allowed to have more than two visitors over the age of 13, and all public places, including hairdressers and day care centres, will close until 19 January.

Schools will close until 18 January and people have been advised to stay at home, not travel to work and avoid contact with others as much as possible.

From 24 until 26 December, households will be allowed three visitors.

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People got in their Christmas shopping in Eindhoven ahead of new restrictions in the Netherlands

Czech Republic

Restaurants, hotels and indoor sports venues, which reopened barely two weeks before, will close again from Friday.

Public gatherings will be limited to six people indoors and out, instead of the current 10 indoors and 50 outdoors, with a nationwide curfew from 11pm to 5am.

Schools will also close early for Christmas, although shops will remain open.

Germany

A hard lockdown in Germany begins on Wednesday, with schools and non-essential shops to be closed throughout Christmas and the new year.

Germany has been under a light lockdown since the beginning of November, with bars, restaurants and tourist attractions closed, but shopping and education allowed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has blamed Christmas shopping for a “considerable” rise in social contacts.

The new restrictions will last until 10 January but will be relaxed slightly from 24 to 26 December, with a five-person limit – but Ms Merkel recommended a week of self-isolation before.

Drinking will be banned in public and firework sales will be prohibited before New Year’s Eve, while religious gatherings will be allowed but only if people remain 1.5m apart and do not sing.

Dresden went into a hard lockdown ahead of the rest of Germany
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Dresden went into a hard lockdown ahead of the rest of Germany

France

A six-week ban on movement was lifted on Tuesday but President Emmanuel Macron imposed an 8pm-6am curfew until mid-January, apart from Christmas Eve, as France suffered Europe’s highest number of cases.

Museums, theatres and cinemas will be closed until January at least, as will restaurants, bars and cafes.

A maximum of six adults and any number of children are allowed in homes.

French ski resorts will remain closed and be allowed to reopen in January “under favourable conditions”.

Spain

From 23 December to 6 January travel between Spain’s regions will be allowed, but only to visit friends and family.

Social gatherings on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will be limited to 10 people – including children.

Ski resorts in Spain have reopened ahead of Christmas
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Ski resorts in Spain have reopened ahead of Christmas

Curfews, which currently range from 10pm to midnight depending on the region, will be pushed back to 1.30am on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Regional governments will have the power to toughen these rules, while some will have to open their borders after having closed them.

The Canary and Balearic Islands will allow free movement.

Italy

A ban on travelling between different regions is in place from 21 December to 6 January and people will not be allowed to leave their hometowns on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

The current 10pm-5am curfew will remain, meaning traditional midnight mass will not be able to happen, although churches can remain open.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Italians to expect a “more sober Christmas, without Christmas Eve gatherings, hugs and kisses”.

The streets of Bologna were packed ahead of a ban on travelling between Italy's regions
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The streets of Bologna were packed ahead of a ban on travelling between Italy’s regions

Rome is expected to impose a “red zone” lockdown from Christmas Eve until at least 2 January, with night curfews extended, bans on non-essential movement and non-essential shops to close.

Italy is experiencing its highest number of deaths since the end of March, bringing the total to 65,000.

Austria

Restrictions have been eased ahead of Christmas after Austria came out of its second national lockdown on 7 December.

A curfew has been introduced between 8pm and 6am and non-essential shops and other businesses have reopened.

Restaurants and bars will remain closed over the Christmas period for everything but takeaways.

Hotels are only open to business travellers and people visiting from countries with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people will have to quarantine for 10 days.

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Hancock defends easing UK restrictions over Christmas

Portugal

Rules will be eased over the Christmas season to allow people to visit their friends and family but measures will be reimposed ahead of New Year’s Eve.

A 10-person gathering limit will be lifted entirely for Christmas and the curfew will be pushed from 11pm to 2am on 24 and 25 December.

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COVID-19: England’s COVID infection rate decreases slightly but remains high – ONS | World News

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COVID-19: England's COVID infection rate decreases slightly but remains high - ONS | World News

The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 in England has decreased slightly but remains high, according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Around 1 in 55 people who are not in care homes, hospitals or other institutional settings had the virus in the week ending 16 January.

In the last full infection survey published two weeks ago, 1 in 50 people had the virus – showing there has been a small decrease, although infection rates still remain high.

Worryingly, infection rates in Northern Ireland jumped from 1 in 200 in the previous survey to 1 in 60.

Rates in Scotland and Wales have levelled off, with 1 in 100 and 1 in 70 people infected respectively.

In England, London and the North East still have the highest infection rates, with about 1 in 35 people estimated to have the virus in the capital.

However, there was some good news as the percentage of people infected with the new variant has fallen in London, the South East and the East of England.

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COVID-19: Holidays to Spain could be delayed ‘until end of summer’ | World News

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reportedly said 70% of the population will need to be vaccinated

Britons hoping to escape to Spain could have their holiday plans cancelled following reports the Spanish prime minister said the country would not welcome international tourists until the “end of summer”.

Speaking at a meeting of the World Tourism Organisation, Pedro Sanchez reportedly said he did not expect holidaymakers to visit Spain until nearly all of the population has been vaccinated.

He said the country would “progressively” prepare to welcome international tourists once 70% of Spain’s population had been vaccinated, which he expected to be by the end of this summer, local media sites including Euro Weekly News have reported.

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez reportedly said 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated

It will be a blow for the tourism sector, which closed its worst year since the 1970s in 2020 with revenues falling by more than 75%.

Spain reported its highest daily number of coronavirus infections yet on Thursday, recording 44,357 cases.

A further 404 deaths were also reported, taking the country’s total to 55,041 deaths and 2.5 million cases.

Spain is not the only popular holiday destination closing its doors to British tourists, as Portugal has said it will be suspending all flights to and from Britain from Saturday onwards.

Only repatriation flights will be allowed between the two countries, Prime Minister Antonio Costa told a news conference.

British tourists arrive at Gran Canaria airport
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Spain is one of the most popular destinations for British tourists

Meanwhile, the UK itself has “considered” a full closure of its borders.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News ministers were keeping the idea “under review” and “can’t rule anything out for now” – although they believed the current restrictions were “sufficient”.

Asked whether people should be booking foreign holidays for this summer, Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to give an answer and said it was “far too early” to speculate on restrictions.

But some Britons have already begun booking their breaks, with holiday firms saying they had seen a spike in bookings from older people planning trips following the vaccine roll-out.

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‘We need to have a spring and summer season’

The UK’s largest tour operator TUI said half of bookings made so far have been made by over-50s.

Spain ranks among the most popular countries for people planning holidays this year.

A study by travel company Club Med showed it was the fifth most popular destination, behind the Maldives, Mexico, Thailand and Turkey.

Earlier, European Union leaders held an online summit to discuss potential coronavirus measures, including further border restrictions.

While a number of EU leaders said they would not rule out border closures, Spain and Greece backed an idea for a common approach to “vaccine passports”.

The system would allow people to travel if they had received the vaccine, although EU diplomats said the measure was premature as it is not yet clear if vaccinated people could still pass on the virus to others.

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Donald Trump was fooled into talking to prankster pretending to be Piers Morgan, TV presenter says | UK News

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Donald and Melania Trump

A prankster pretending to be Piers Morgan managed to fool Donald Trump into thinking he was speaking to the real TV presenter.

It happened in October while the former president and Apprentice star was on Air Force One, Morgan said.

Mr Trump, who left the White House for the final time earlier this week, only realised he had been scammed when he rang the genuine Morgan the following day while on his way to Florida, the presenter revealed.

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Donald and Melania Trump boarding Air Force One for the last time on Wednesday

Morgan told the BBC it was a “hilarious story”, adding: “Somebody had called him pretending to be me the day before and got through to him on Air Force One and they had a conversation with Trump thinking he was talking to me.”

It is not known who the prankster was.

The pair, who have known each other for more than a decade, fell out last year after Morgan, 55, criticised Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2008, Morgan won a series of Celebrity Apprentice hosted by the billionaire businessman.

He also interviewed him during his time in office for ITV‘s Good Morning Britain.

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Donald Trump’s presidency in 6 minutes

Taking about Mr Trump’s time as US president, Morgan said the 74-year-old had been a “useless leader” because of his “character flaws – the chronic narcissism, the desire to make everything about himself”.

But Mr Trump is not the only prominent person to have been fooled by a prankster.

In March last year, Prince Harry was reportedly tricked into speaking about his decision to quit the royal family by Russian hoaxers posing as the environmental activist Greta Thunberg.

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