Several countries are increasing their restrictions before the holidays, while others, such as Northern Ireland and Wales, have already announced that the closures will begin immediately after Christmas Day.
Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic, who attended the same meeting, also tested positive for the coronavirus that was announced on Friday (local time).
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to rule out a new national shutdown after the holidays.
“We are very hopeful that we can avoid something like this,” Johnson said during a visit to Manchester on Friday.
“But the reality is that infection rates have increased a lot in recent weeks.”
Northern Island and Wales have already announced strict closures from Boxing Day and December 28, respectively.
In Scotland, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the option of a post-Christmas lockdown “remains on the table.”
Sweden is tightening restrictions at the national level by requiring that many people work from home and reducing the number of people who can meet in restaurants, shops and gyms starting next week, but the government decided not to order the first total closure of the country. to control a recent increase in virus cases. the prime minister said on Friday.
The Scandinavian country has not entered into lockdowns or closed businesses, relying instead on citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections.
However, the country has experienced a rapid increase in confirmed cases that is straining the healthcare system. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said: “The situation is still very serious,” so the government is introducing new limits on public activities.
“We believe that a lockdown is a burden on the population,” Lofven said. “We are following our strategy.”
New restrictions that go into effect on December 24 include making masks mandatory on public transportation and delaying a nationwide time limit for bars and restaurants to sell alcohol until 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.
Sweden, which has a population of 10 million, has reported 367,120 confirmed virus cases and 7,993 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest figures.
While in Switzerland, the government said on Friday it is ordering the closure of restaurants, bars, cultural venues and sports facilities next week in a renewed bid to halt the continued rise in coronavirus cases.
The move comes just a week after authorities reopened restaurants and watering holes across a wide swath of western Switzerland.
The closures, which take effect on Tuesday and last until January 22, are necessary because “hospitals and healthcare workers have been under extreme pressure for weeks and the holiday period increases the risk of an even faster rise. of the cases, “said the government. in a sentence.
“The coronavirus will not let us go during this holiday. The situation remains critical. That is why stricter measures have been decided,” Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga said at a press conference.
The government is restricting the number of people who can be in the stores, which must close after 7:00 p.m. and on Sundays and holidays.
The 7-day moving average of daily new cases in Switzerland has risen in the last two weeks from about 43 new cases per 100,000 people on December 3 to just over 50 new cases per 100,000 people through Thursday.
The German government says the country faces difficult months ahead, despite the upcoming arrival of a coronavirus vaccine.
Official figures on Friday show 33,777 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 813 additional deaths in the last day.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert says the expected regulatory approval of a vaccine “naturally gives us hope, but it obviously will not solve the problem.”
He says that January and February will be the “hardest we have in this pandemic.”
Germany had contained the coronavirus early in the pandemic before a recent surge. There have been 1.4 million confirmed cases (the twelfth highest in the world) and more than 25,000 confirmed deaths (the fourteenth), according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Spain’s Health Ministry says the country will start vaccinating against COVID-19 on December 27.
Salvador Illa says that Pfizer vaccines should arrive in Spain on December 26. He did not say how many doses Spain will receive initially. The country has said it will receive 140 million doses in total.
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Spain says it expects to vaccinate 2.5 million people in the first three months of 2021, starting with older people and healthcare workers.
After declining substantially in recent weeks, infection numbers in Spain are starting to rise again, although they are still among the lowest in the European Union.
Croatia has banned travel between various parts of the country before Christmas and the New Year in a bid to curb rising coronavirus infections.
Authorities say that from December 23 to January 8, only essential service employees, such as health workers and road maintenance crews, will be allowed to move from one region to another. Special permits will be issued in exceptional cases.
The Interior Minister, Davor Bozinovic, says that the virus situation does not allow a relaxation of the measures for the next holidays.
Croatia has reported thousands of new coronavirus infections daily for weeks, which has overwhelmed the country’s healthcare system.
Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic tested positive for coronavirus.
Friday’s announcement came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive. Both leaders attended an EU summit in Brussels last week.
The prime minister’s office says Matovic was tested on Thursday and canceled all his events. Members of Matovic’s coalition government are in quarantine after he led the last session of government on Wednesday.
Slovakia is imposing a 24-hour curfew on Saturday in response to a recent surge in coronavirus infections, which reached a record 3,991 cases on Thursday.
The government has urged people to isolate themselves for at least seven days or get tested before seeing family members during the Christmas holidays.
The country of 5.4 million had 146,124 confirmed cases with 1,440 confirmed deaths.