Caught by a 2nd wave coronavirus, Europe is facing a gloomy Christmas

While the worst-hit countries have opted for similar locking policies to deal with the pandemic, over Christmas they are taking completely different approaches with people’s desire for re-infection. family unions incorporated into individual coronavirus strategies.

Family gatherings and indoor travel are part of the Christmas holidays in Europe and scientists have warned that restrictions should be in place.

However, some European countries have issued rebates for a limited time over the holidays despite the second wave showing little sign of slowing down. Experts have warned that such policies could encourage an increase in diseases and deaths – similar to the impact of Thanksgiving Day in the US

What are the limitations?

If Europeans followed the advice of the World Health Organization, Christmas this year would feel very different.

New advice released Wednesday from the group said postponing or postponing religious gatherings should be seriously considered.

“Wherever it is, religious services should be held differently this year. They should be kept outdoors where possible or limited in size and length, with physical speed, ventilation, hand hygiene and mask use, as appropriate, “the council reads.

However, despite that warning and despite the appeal of two major health publications, the British government has announced a moratorium on banning indoor gatherings between homes from December 23 to December 27. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday people should “be very careful.”

Indoor gatherings between three homes will be allowed at Christmas. Travel within and across the four countries of the United Kingdom is also permitted. Wales, however, has announced that indoor gatherings will only be allowed between two homes and the country has also announced that stricter preparations will take effect after Christmas. And in Northern Ireland, the national government has announced that the country will be locked in just after Christmas Day, on 26 December.

A similar amnesty will be allowed in France, although – unlike in the UK – restaurants, bars, theaters and museums are closed across the country, and will be closed until at least January 7 .Stores were allowed to open just three weeks ago. for holiday shopping, despite the fact that the country has just not left a tight lock.

A maximum of six people, excluding children, will have the opportunity to sit at the Christmas table, the French government has recommended, and there will be a pass between departments. A recently submitted curfew from 8pm to 6am will be picked up for a time on Christmas Eve.

At the same time, Germany has tightened expectations with the holidays and has left an even smaller window for a home mix.

All non-alcoholic schools and stores were closed on December 16 and are not expected to reopen until January 10. Public consumption of alcohol has been banned.

Two families of up to five are currently allowed to meet but, from December 24 to December 26, a family can invite up to four adults from different families while away from a close family.

In Spain, the central government has made recommendations on how to approach the Christmas holidays, but individual regions will be allowed to determine their own rules on social mixing.

In Belgium, which was badly hit during the second wave, restrictions will be even tighter. Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo said he would like “us not to spoil the progress of the past four weeks over four days.” Families can only invite one guest, with single families allowed to invite two, over the Christmas period.

Elsewhere in Sweden – which, unlike the countries named, has yet to lock down at the time of the pandemic – it plans to end internal gatherings by eight. over the Christmas and New Year’s Eve period, according to Forbes.

As of December 14, 15,083,443 cases and 375,147 COVID-19-related deaths have been registered in the European Union and the UK, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Warnings of a spike similar to Thanksgiving Day

Public health experts have warned that a sharp break in social distance rules could lead to the kind of spike in coronavirus cases and deaths seen in the U.S. after Thanksgiving Day.

According to Professor Tim Spector, epidemiologist and lead researcher of the ZOE app Covid Symptom, which monitors coronavirus infections in the UK, the country may have passed the highest rate of infections second wave.

Overall, the UK has outperformed hospitals and deaths than it did in the first wave starting in April, but Christmas retrieval is likely to lead to more coronavirus deaths, he said.

“The government is asking people to be restrained and say that it is the highest level, doing the least and trying to be sensible, but we know from Thanksgiving Day, a similar program a few weeks ago, that will lead to more cases because it’s more confusing and people are traveling around the country more, “he told ABC News.” So inevitably we will see more cases. . The question is, how many more will there be and will this be a major problem. “

Professor Mahmoud Zureik, epidemiologist and public health expert at the University of Versailles Saint Quentin, said the worst is yet to be found on the continent of Europe and while Christmas amnesty may not explode third wave, it could make the second more deadly and long – lasting.

“I think the next two or three weeks are when we reach the peak of the second wave in Europe,” he told ABC News. again. Germany sees one of the most unfavorable developments. They didn’t have the first wave. … Every time you leave a window open, the virus enters. “

Both experts say it is far too early for vaccine distribution – which has started in the UK but has not yet been approved by the European Union – to have any impact on coronavirus hospitals or deaths this year.

With those under the age of 50 expected to be the last to be vaccinated, and this demographic crucial in driving second wave disease, mortality rates will fall faster than infection rates in the coming months , Spector said. Even now, there is no ready solution to the pandemic, he warned.

“I think the only move I can make from looking at other European countries is the lack of consistent impact of any transparent strategy that really wins,” he said. The difference between the countries is that some prioritize locks and others prioritize industry. And we see very few consistent differences between them. Countries like Sweden and Switzerland have taken a more relaxed approach to this. Others, like France, Italy and Spain are locked up. And in the second wave, there is no big difference between what we see. “

ABC News’ Ibtissem Guenfoud, Aicha El-Hammar, Sarah Hucal and Phoebe Natanson contributed to this report.