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COVID-19

How Europe is ramping up restrictions to prevent a coronavirus resurgence

Here is an overview of recent restrictions being imposed in countries across Europe, including localised lockdowns, mandatory testing and obligations to wear face masks among others.

How Europe is ramping up restrictions to prevent a coronavirus resurgence
People wearing face masks queue while a security guard uses a thermometer to check people's temperatures outside a mass for victims of the coronavirus at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus have led many European countries to tighten measures as they battle to prevent its spread again.
  
Spain 

The number of daily notified cases has climbed to 1,738 or 92 percent more than the previous week.

From July 17th, almost four million residents in Spain's second city Barcelona have been urged to stay home by the Catalan regional government.

The government also ordered the closure of cinemas, theatres and nightclubs and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. Restaurants must limit capacity to one-half the usual number.

Since July 15th, people have also been told to stay home in and around the Catalan city of Lerida, a measure affecting around 250,000 people. 

Many regions around Spain have imposed restrictions on bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Faced with a resurgence of infections, many Spanish regions, although not Madrid, have tightened the requirement to wear masks.

In those regions, masks must now be worn at all times in the street and in enclosed public spaces.

People wearing face masks walk along La Misericordia Beach in Malaga on July 22nd, 2020. Photo: AFP

Portugal 

Lisbon has reported 218 daily cases, a decline of 28 percent from the previous week. 

Lockdown at home has been the rule since July 1st for 700,000 inhabitants in the capital region.

That measure has been extended at least until the end of July.

Britain

London has reported 662 daily cases, a weekly decline of 12 percent.

Britain is the only western European country where the number of daily deaths remains high however, at around 65 per day.

On June 30th, the central city of Leicester began a localised two-week lockdown with non-essential shops shutting. The restriction had now been partially eased.

Facemasks — already compulsory in Scotland — are now also mandatory in all English shops and supermarkets as of July 24th.

On July 26th, Britain introduced a quarantine for visitors from Spain.

Ireland

Dublin has reported 17 daily cases, a decline of nine percent.

Having initially planned to open bars fully from July 13th, the date was pushed back to August 10th owing to a resurgence of cases. Gatherings are limited to 50 people indoors and 200 outdoors, and wearing masks in shops will be compulsory.

France 

Paris has reported 823 daily cases, an increase of 55 percent.

A negative virus test will become mandatory at the latest on August 1st for visitors from 16 countries, including the United States, Brazil and Algeria. Otherwise travellers are to be tested on arrival and go into quarantine if  positive.

The authorities have advised against travel to Catalonia.

France imposes obligatory testing at airports for arrivals from 16 countries. Photo: AFP

 

The wearing of face masks has also become obligatory by law in all indoor public spaces including shops and public buildings. Those who don't adhere to the rule face fines of €135.

Regional authorities ordered night-time curfews for beaches and bars in the Brittany resort of Quiberon on the Atlantic coast, after a fast-spreading Covid-19 cluster emerged there last week and in some towns local authorities have also made masks compulsory on the street.

READ ALSO: Is France heading towards a second wave of coronavirus?

Belgium

Brussels has reported 318 daily cases, a surge of 149 percent.

“We are very worried,” said Belgian PM Sophie Wilmes who urged Belgians to once again work from home if they could.

She said the aim was to avoid a new national lockdown, but also didn't rule it out if the situation continues to worsen.

From July 29th, and for four weeks, the number of people who can gather together has been reduced to five from 15.

Public events are limited to 100 people indoors, instead of 200 previously, and 200 outside, instead of 400.

Wearing a mask was made compulsory from July 11th for everyone over the age of 12 in enclosed public spaces including shops, cinemas, libraries and places of worship.

Germany

Authorities have reported 528 daily cases, an increase of 33 percent.

Despite being less affected by the pandemic than many neighbours, Germany's federal and regional governments have agreed on tougher, targeted lockdown measures to contain local outbreaks and ward off the threat of a second coronavirus wave, including a ban on travel “in and out of the affected areas”.

Meanwhile, Germany is set to make coronavirus tests mandatory for travellers returning from risk areas, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday July 27th.

“We must prevent returning travellers from infecting others unnoticed and thus triggering new chains of infection,” Spahn wrote on Twitter.

The rule is set to come into effect next week. The tests are to be free of charge for travellers.

Germany's public health institute RKI currently considers around 130 nations worldwide to be “risk countries”, with EU and Schengen area neighbours among the exceptions.

On Friday, Germany announced it would offer free coronavirus tests to all returning travellers and had been considering if it would make them mandatory for people coming back from areas deemed high risk.

The new measures will see test facilities installed at airports across the country.

Austria

Vienna has reported 127 daily cases, a rise of 18 percent

On July 24th, masks became mandatory in supermarkets, post offices, banks and medical centres.

Italy 

Rome has reported 241 daily cases, an increase of 23 percent.

In Campania in the southern Naples region, a 1,000-euro ($1,180) fine was imposed on July 25th in establishments that allow clients to go without masks.

Coach passengers who arrive in Rome from abroad will also be tested.

Norway

Authorities in Norway now advise against travel to Spain and Andorra, however. That is due in part to increased infection spread in some parts of northern Spain, particularly in the northern regions Aragón and Catalonia.

Travellers from Spain to Norway must now quarantine for ten days upon return. The quarantine rule is not applied retroactively and will come into effect from the time of implementation on Friday.

Sweden

Sweden, which was far worse affected by the coronavirus outbreak than its Nordic neighbours this spring, has unlike much of Europe been seeing a sharp downturn in the number of new daily cases since early July. The number of coronavirus deaths is now at around seven deaths a day on a 14-day average scale.

Public events of more than 50 people remain banned, as are visits to elderly care homes. Schools for over-16s and universities are generally set to reopen to students when the autumn semester starts.

Health chiefs have said that they are unlikely to introduce new measures such as travel restrictions or face masks while the curve is pointing downward, but preparations are being made for a potential second wave.

The Public Health Agency has published three different scenarios for how the pandemic may play out this autumn – one where the infection rate remains at a low level, one medium-case scenario where the virus spreads in uneven clusters, and one worst-case where new cases increase steadily.

Member comments

  1. Anyone with a single brain cell knew that when travel in France was opened up the virus cases would increase. The country was opened up far too early.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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