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COVID-19

Covid-19 cases ‘explode’ in Europe: Which countries are under lockdown or curfew?

As Europe sees an "explosion" of Covid-19 cases many countries are reimposing tight restrictions that they had relaxed over the summer. Here's a round-up of what rules are in place in each country.

Covid-19 cases 'explode' in Europe: Which countries are under lockdown or curfew?
Police in the French Riviera city of Nice check permission forms. Photo: AFP

Europe has become the region with the highest number of registered cases of the new coronavirus,

The continent's 52 countries have a combined total of 11.6 million cases including more than 293,000 deaths, ahead of Latin America and the Caribbean which has reported 11.4 million cases with 407,000 deaths.

Europe has again become the epicentre of the pandemic. On Thursday The World Health Organization in Europe on Thursday said they were seeing an “explosion” of virus cases in the European region and warned mortality rates were also rising.

As a result lockdowns, curfews and tough restrictions are being imposed across Europe as it struggles to cope with the second wave of the coronavirus.

Here are the latest measures being taken:

UNITED KINGDOM: England's second lockdown starts Thursday for a month following neighbouring Wales and Northern Ireland. Schools and universities stay open with cafes and restaurants allowed to offer takeaways. Wales imposed a two-week 'circuit-breaker' lockdown on October 23rd with all non-essential trips out of the home barred. Some secondary schools have also closed.

FRANCE: The country went back into lockdown on October 30th, having earlier imposed curfews on some major cities in an attempt to curb the rapidly rising case numbers.

France's second lockdown is less strict than its spring restrictions and schools remain open along with some types of business. However all 'non essential' shops have had to close and every trip outside the home in France now requires an attestation permission form showing that the person in outside for an essential reason such as school, work or grocery shopping. Trips out for exercise are allowed for one hour per day, within 1km of the home.

Source ECDC

READ ALSO These are the 'essential' reasons you are allowed out of your home in France 

GREECE: Three-week lockdown starts on Saturday, with Greeks needing an authorisation by text message to leave their homes. Primary schools and creches stay open.

IRELAND: The first country in Europe to go back into lockdown on October 22nd. Schools remain open but non-essential trips outside the home are barred.

DENMARK: Does not have a lockdown in the general understanding of the term, but announced significant local restrictions on movement in the North Jutland region on November 5th. The measures are in the form of a request, and ask residents in seven northern municipalities not to leave their home areas. Restaurants, sports and cultural activities will also be closed for the next four weeks.

The decision by the Danish government is in response to a concerning outbreak of a mutated form of coronavirus which occurred in mink and has now been passed back to humans. 

The mutation “could pose a risk that future (coronavirus) vaccines won't work the way they should,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference, adding: “It is necessary to cull all the minks.”

READ ALSO: How serious is Denmark's mink coronavirus mutation and outbreak?

SPAIN: Most of Spain's region have imposed perimeter confinements to close off the borders and stop people crossing between different regions. Many municpalities are also under perimetral confinements including all towns in Cantabria, the Basque Country and Murcia and all provincial capitals in Aragon and Asturias. Galicia has closed off all its provincial capitals plus 60 smaller municpalities while La Rioja has closed off the cities of Logroño and Arnedo. Andalusia has restrictions around provinces of Seville, Jaen and Granada. 

Madrid has taken the decision to limit movement in and out of the region only over the bank holiday weekends but imposed perimetral confinement of 35 healthcare zones within its territory for at least two weeks while Catalonia has a regional confinement and is limiting people to within their own municpalities at weekends.

LATEST: What are the restrictions in place in each of Spain's regions right now?

GERMANY: Bars, restaurants and leisure facilities have been closed since Monday November 2nd, and are slated to remain shut until the end of the month, with only take-out and deliveries allowed. Overnight stays for tourism purposes are also prohibited.

As opposed to the spring shutdown, Germany’s new oft-dubbed “lockdown light” still allows schools and kitas to remain open.

Up to 10 people from two separate households are also able to meet, and in some states outdoor facilities such as zoos and tennis courts can remain open as long as hygiene and social distancing measures are adhered to.

READ ALSO: Germany enters month-long partial lockdown

PORTUGAL: More than two-thirds of the population urged not to leave home except to go to work, school and do food shopping.

NORWAY:Premier Erna Solberg appealed Thursday for people to “stay home as much as possible” and avoid social contact even though the country has one of the lowest rates of the virus in Europe. 

That represents a reversal of the approach from just a few weeks ago, when a tentative reopening was announced. Solberg said that “we do not have time to wait and see if the measures we introduced the week before last are sufficient. We must act now to avoid a lockdown.”

Several of the new measures impact travel into the country, including for family members visiting Norway-based relatives. Solberg also advised strongly against travelling within Norway.

READ ALSO: Norway announces strict new coronavirus measures: Here are the details to know

SWITZERLAND: Non-essential shops closed in Geneva and its region, with people urged only to leave home when strictly necessary. 

In the majority of Switzerland, bars and restaurants are not allowed to open at night and meeting in large groups is restricted. 

ITALY: Local nighttime curfews go national fon Friday, from 10pm to 6am.

Several Italian regions are also under lockdown from Friday under a new three-tiered system.

MAP: Which zone is each region in under Italy’s new tier system?

BELGIUM: Despite being called a lockdown, people are free to move around  during the day. All non-essential shops closed, with homeworking now the norm.  A curfew ending at 5am has been in force since October 19th.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Shops must close at 8pm and on Sundays with curfew from 9pm. 

AUSTRIA: Curfew from 8pm to 6am since Tuesday, with museums, cinemas, theatres and swimming pools shut. Birthday parties and Christmas markets banned. 

READ: Everything you need to know about Austria's coronavirus shutdown 

People must be in their own homes or the homes of their 'life partners' and can only leave for work or to exercise. Picking up food or shopping is not allowed, but delivery is ok. 

SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA, CYPRUS, LUXEMBOURG: All under curfew.

KOSOVO: Curfew only for over 65s.

POLAND: Cinemas and most shopping centres closed.

THE NETHERLANDS: Cinemas, museums and other public spaces shut.

SWEDEN: Sweden has so far rolled out local coronavirus rules in 10 out of 21 regions. These vary depending on region, but the most common factors are to limit social contact, avoid indoor venues and avoid public transport. They take the form of strong recommendations which have a legal basis and are not considered optional, but are not coercive and you can generally not be fined for breaking them. Everyone in the country is also urged to follow national recommendations, such as working from home if they can, and avoiding large parties or gatherings.

 

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COVID-19

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.

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