Countries like France and Italy are cautiously loosening corona measures, none of them want to risk a relapse to extreme numbers of infections. A neighboring country criticizes the course of the Germans.
After almost a month of strict curfews, France has relaxed its corona rules a little. In the first phase of the gradual lifting of the lockdown, non-essential stores are now allowed to reopen their doors. However, strict conditions apply to this. Around eight square meters of sales area must be available for each customer. Hairdressers can now also receive customers again.
According to the health authorities, France has already survived the peak of new infections in the second corona wave. On Friday, around 12,450 new infections were reported within 24 hours. At the beginning of November there were sometimes well over 60,000 cases. In the country of 67 million people, more than 51,900 people have died since the outbreak of the pandemic.
“Support nearby stores”
For weeks the economy had been calling for all stores to be reopened. Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote on Twitter: “Let’s support our local businesses!”
People in France can now do sports and take walks in the open air. Instead of the previous one hour per day, three are now allowed, and the radius increases from one to 20 kilometers around the place of residence. Extracurricular activities can also take place outside again.
Almost deserted Eiffel Tower in Paris: France is cautiously relaxing the corona restrictions. (Source: Myriam Tirler)
The easing of the rules follows about a month of strict restrictions, many of which remain in place. In France, leaving the house will only be allowed in the future for a valid reason – for example to go to work or go shopping. A certificate must be carried with you. As President Emmanuel Macron said in his TV address on Tuesday, one should still refrain from meeting friends and family and all unnecessary exits. Castex also warned that it was too early to speak of an end to the lockdown.
Italy and Ireland: Both countries are hopeful
The situation has also eased somewhat in Italy. The country reported 28,352 new corona infections yesterday, Friday, around 700 fewer than the previous day. The number of confirmed infections in total rose to 1.538 million, as the Ministry of Health announced. In the past few days, however, the increase in hospital admissions and intensive care unit occupancy has slowed. For this reason, Italy will loosen the regulations in five regions from Sunday, including Lombardy.
Ireland, which was one of the first European countries to impose a lockdown in the second corona wave, is also reporting good news. After a six-week lockdown, the country is easing its protective measures. As of next week, all shops, restaurants and fitness studios are allowed to reopen, as Prime Minister Michael Martin announced. From December 18, travel between the counties should be allowed again to enable a “different but special” Christmas.
Spain: dispute over the festival of love
In Spain, on the other hand, the debate about the corona rules for Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the very important Epiphany on January 6th is coming to a head. After some of the 17 regions had demanded uniform regulations for the whole country, the left central government promised a quick solution. “There won’t be 17 different Christmass,” Health Minister Salvador Illa promised on Thursday in the parliament in Madrid. At a meeting with the regional governments next week, an agreement will be reached, said Illa.
In the context of the corona emergency, which has been in force since the end of October and until May – unlike in spring – each of the so-called autonomous communities is to decide on the measures to be taken to contain the pandemic. Before the holidays, however, some regions, including Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha, are demanding not to repeat the mistake made in the summer when the economy was given preference over fighting the virus and the measures were relaxed too quickly .
The Andalusian regional president Juanma Moreno warned of an “enormous risk of infection at Christmas”. “There was too much partying in the summer and that cost us dearly,” complained several regional politicians in unison. It doesn’t do much good for the overall situation in Spain to be very strict in some regions while others want to relax the rules.
Belgium: criticism of Germany
Belgium is recording a decline in the corona numbers, but the country is only easing its pandemic requirements slightly. From December 1st, all shops will be allowed to reopen under strict hygiene requirements – instead of just grocery stores and shops with absolutely essential goods as was previously the case. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced this on Friday evening. Most of the conditions will remain in place, probably initially until mid-January. Strict contact restrictions also apply over Christmas.
Italy: As here in Rome, people all over Europe are hoping for an end to the Corona crisis. (Source: Cecilia Fabiano / LaPresse / AP / dpa)
Belgium, with its 11.5 million inhabitants, had the highest number of corona cases per capita in Europe at times and therefore imposed strict requirements at the beginning of November. Infection, hospital and death numbers are now falling. However, the situation remains tense, said De Croo. It is important to keep pressing the numbers. The successes should not be jeopardized. “We would not survive a third wave,” said the Prime Minister.
Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, who has criticized the planned relaxation of the Corona rules over Christmas in Germany, is also worried about this. “If there is something that the virus likes, it is fixed, especially with changing participants, we have to avoid that,” said Vandenbroucke on Friday evening after a report by the Belga agency. “That’s why I think our neighboring countries are not doing what is appropriate.”
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had advised against traveling to red zones abroad and announced checks at the Belgian borders to see whether travelers had filled out the required form. Then random checks should be carried out to determine whether the required quarantine time is being adhered to. “We can see that the numbers in our country are developing well,” said De Croo. “The last thing we want is to get the virus back into Belgium.”