SHARE
COPY LINK

COVID-19

In Depth: How Europe is ramping up new lockdown measures to fight coronavirus pandemic

The European Union agreed to close its external borders as countries ramped up their lockdown measures in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a look at how countries are tackling the crisis.

In Depth: How Europe is ramping up new lockdown measures to fight coronavirus pandemic
AFP

The European Union has agreed to close its external borders for 30 days.

The entry of non-EU nationals will be restricted unless they have visas. EU nationals and Britons will be allowed to enter the EU though.

Quarantine, schools, shops and borders closed, gatherings banned, here are the main measures being taken in Europe to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Confinement

Italy and Spain, Austria and the Czech Republic, have taken strict confinement measures. Their citizens can go out only to work, for health reasons or to buy food.

France's President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on Monday evening to announce that the government was ordering people to stay home for 15 days unless for essential reasons.

Those reasons included grocery shopping, exercise, medical appointments and walking the dog. But it was now forbidden to friends or families outside. Anyone caught disobeying the rule would be subject to a 38 euro fine that could rise to €135.

The British government has asked people displaying symptoms to remain at home for a week.

Greece has imposed a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.

People returning from the main coronavirus hotspots must stay at home for two weeks in Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Russia and Slovakia. Germany has recommended the same.

 Borders controlled or closed

Spain announced Monday it would close its land borders at midnight.

Germany has stepped up border controls with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, only allowing through goods transit and border workers.

France is to bolster checks with Germany, while not closing its border completely.

Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania and Slovakia have announced the closure of their borders to foreigners, with Slovakia making an exception for Poles.

Russia has closed its land borders with Norway and Poland.

Austria has almost entirely closed its border with Italy.

Schools closed 

Schools, universities and creches are closed in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal,  Romania, Russia, Slovakia,  Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine.

Gatherings banned

In Belgium, Cyprus and Italy all gatherings have been banned.

Gathering of more than five people are banned in Austria and the Swiss canton of Geneva, while the Czech Republic has prohibited meetings with more than 30.

Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland have set the threshold at 100 people, as have Hungary and Romania for closed meetings.

Finland and Sweden have set the bar at 500 people.

Germany has cancelled  non-essential events gathering less than 1,000 people, a threshold also in force in Poland, Portugal and Romania.

Moscow has banned meetings of more than 50 indoors and set limits on outdoor events.

Restaurants and shops closed

Non-essential businesses have been closed in Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain.

In Belgium, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants are closed, as are pubs in Ireland.

Luxembourg and the Netherlands have ordered the closure of all places and businesses open to the public.

Greece has closed its museums and archaeological sites.

Transport disrupted

France has announced a gradual reduction of long-distance transport, including buses, planes and trains.

In Germany regional rail transport will also be heavily reduced.

Rome's second airport, Ciampino, is closed, while Fiumicino is to close one of its three terminals from Tuesday.

Poland has cancelled all domestic flights.

Ukraine has suspended air links and Russia has reduced them with the European Union.

Austria has suspended rail links with Italy and air links with France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test

Masks

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, said she is “asking the French to wear masks on public transport once again” during an interview with RTL on Monday, June 27th. She also recommended wearing a mask in all other enclosed crowded areas, as a “civic gesture.” However, she did not refer to the request as a government mandated obligation.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.

SHOW COMMENTS