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European countries face Christmas lockdown as coronavirus cases surge

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Europeans will follow London by celebrating Christmas under tough lockdown restrictions as cases of coronavirus spread in alarming speed across the continent.

London’s hospital are feeling the strain in recent weeks. The UK’s Department of Health reported there are 2,726 patients being treated for Covid in London hospitals, with 211 fatalities in the past week.

In Vienna, restaurants and hotels will remain shut and schools won’t reopen as usual after the Christmas holidays. The measures take effect on Dec. 26 and will lift on Jan. 18.

“The forecast for the first quarter is very, very dark,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. “The growth of infections could turn exponential again at any time.”

In Sweden, all licensed bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol by 22:00 and close by 22:30 until the end of February.

Swedes have been advised to meet a maximum of eight people and to gather outdoors if possible and avoid travelling by train or bus.

Meanwhile, residents in Berlin are also facing a month-long lockdown after a record 30,000 new infections were reported on Thursday.

The new restrictions, including closures of schools and non-essential shops until at least January 10, demonstrate the seriousness of the situation in Europe’s largest economy.

The measures have forced the closure of the city’s famous Christmas markets selling food and mulled wine.

Parisians are under a nationwide curfew between 20:00 and 06:00, which will be lifted for Christmas Eve but not on New Year’s Eve.

However, bars, restaurants, theatres and cinemas will remain shut during this period.

Cities in Italy will endure draconian restrictions until January 6 that includes limits on people leaving their homes more than once a day, closing non-essential shops, bars and restaurants and curbs on regional travel.

Under the new rules, non-essential shops will be shuttered between Dec. 24-27, Dec. 31- Jan. 3 and Jan. 5-6.

Italy reported 553 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections decreased to 16,308 from 17,992.

Amsterdam is in a five-week lockdown after the cases in the Netherlands jumped by nearly 13,000 in 24 hours, hitting a new record for the second day in a row.

Restrictions will ease slightly for the three days of Christmas, but a fireworks ban has been put in place for New Year’s.

 

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