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So This is Christmas? How COVID is Killing the Fun

It starts on Christmas Eve.
Dec 23, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Ascano

The world is readying for a downbeat festive season with Christmas plans in tatters and New Year celebrations without crowds or fireworks -- all scuppered by new virus curbs. 

Here is an overview of how COVID-19 is putting a kibosh on the festivities.

Cancelling Christmas

With a new strain "out of control" and more than 40 countries banning travel with Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson scraps plans to relax the rules over Christmas and tells people to stay home.

London and southeast England -- where the new strain is worst -- will remain in lockdown until Dec. 30. 


All Flights from UK Suspended from Dec. 24-31, Says Roque

In Italy people can only leave their homes once a day until Jan. 6, with bars, restaurants and non-essential shops also shuttered.

The Netherlands has reimposed a lockdown until Jan. 19 with schools and all non-essential shops closed, while Germany is under partial lockdown till Jan. 10.

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Norway has called on its population to follow a voluntary lockdown, while Sweden has done a U-turn on its lax attitude to the virus by asking people to wear masks on public transport at peak times.

France has slightly eased its lockdown, but has also introduced a curfew from 8:00 pm every night with a one-day reprieve on Dec. 25.

Cold turkey anyone...?

Among the countries allowing gatherings over Christmas, Belgium is setting its limit to just one guest per household, and two guests for people living alone. Luxembourg is allowing two guests per household.

From Dec. 24 to 26 in Germany, gatherings are limited to close family members.

The Netherlands is advising households to welcome no more than three guests at Christmas while France has set the maximum at six adults around the dinner table.


Skipping Family Gatherings is 'Safest Bet' This Christmas, Says WHO

Quebec in Canada has scrapped its decision to allow gatherings over a four-day period during Christmas, in light of the sharp rise in new infections there.

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And Ireland declared a cold Christmas Tuesday with families urged to stay at home and only two households allowed to mix from Dec. 27.

No festive fun

Last-minute Christmas shopping is off in Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and the southeast of England where non-essential shops have shut.

And there is no hope of warming up with some mulled wine in Germany from traditional outdoor stands, all shut this year.

Non-essential shops have reopened in France, but there will be no restaurants open for New Year celebrations, nor live shows.

In Switzerland, restaurants, as well as culture and sports facilities are all closing their doors before Christmas, while shops will stay open.

Silent prayers

Pope Francis has brought the Vatican's Christmas midnight mass forward by two hours due to Italy's curfew. 

Christmas mass in Bethlehem will take place without worshippers.

Singing in churches in Switzerland is banned, while in Greece churches will open for the festive period but with a capacity of nine people, and 25 in cathedrals.

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Croatia has imposed travel restrictions for the holidays but eased curbs on Christmas masses.

And then... it gets worse

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Austria have all announced fresh lockdowns immediately after Christmas.

While Portugal is imposing a curfew on New Year's Eve and Kazakhstan will ban all mass gatherings and events from Dec. 25 and through the New Year.

A partial lockdown will come into force in Poland for three weeks starting Dec. 28.

And schools, universities, non-essential shops, restaurants, cinemas and sports venues will all shut in Ukraine from Jan. 8 to 24.


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