Lonely bleak Christmas across much of the globe
By Ricky Browne
As parts of the UK prepare for the previously-unheard of ‘Tier 4’ the coronavirus seems to have set its sights on Christmas as it’s next victim.
In fact, if it weren’t for alcohol there’d be little Christmas spirit this year — not just in the UK but all around the world.
Here are some countries that are going all out to keep Christmas as Covid-free as possible — and at least one that’s doing very little in comparison.
Up until Saturday it looked like much of the UK would be having some latitude for celebrating Christmas, with rules relaxed for five days over the Christmas period, from December 23 to 27, so that people could have get-togethers at home.
People were being allowed to form a ‘Christmas bubble’ with three households. But they must consider the danger they pose to vulnerable people. As Covid numbers escalate, people are being warned about the dangers of mixing across households at all.
But as of Saturday new rules are in place with Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing a new Tier 4 for London and the South East — driven by a new variant that looks to be 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain.
“This is now spreading very fast” the Prime Minister warned the country just after 4:00 pm on Saturday. The new tier takes effect at midnight on Saturday.
“We already know more than enough to know that we must act now,” he said.
There will be more restrictions in London and the SE to enter a new tier 4 — meaning those residents must stay at home, non essential retail must close, people must work from home if they can, people should not enter or leave tier 4 areas and must not stay outside.
They can only meet with one person in an outside or inside space.
“We are asking everyone in all tiers to stay at home” and shouldn’t travel abroad, the Prime Minister said.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you that we can not continue with Christmas as planned.”
Other areas will have the amount of days they can socialise with three other households cut from five days to three days.
“We must and will be guided by the science,” he said.
He stressed that many other European countries will have to do likewise, so that the UK is not alone in this.
The UK has 27,500 new cases over 24 hours and 534 new deaths from the coronavirus over the same period.
Here is the status of some other countries around the globe — but the situation is so fast moving, that they too may tighten their restrictions in the hours and days ahead.
Jamaica has intensified the Covid rules for Chrismas, with a gathering limit of 15 people in both private and public places and a prhohibiton on parties and events. But there is also a curfew on Xmas day, with no one allowed on the streets betwen the hours of 7:00 pm and 5:00 am the next morning. So you better plan on getting home before that. And that holds for Boxing Day too. And New Year’s Day. Other days will be at the normal curfew time which is 10 pm to 5 am.
France is experiencing an increase in Covid cases, with President Emmanuel Macron now the latest national leader to get the disease. The country is moving out of lockdown, but now has a curfew in place from 8 pm to 7am. That will be lifted on the important celebratory day of Christmas Eve, but is back in effect for Christmas Day and New Years Eve. Precise numbers on how many many people are allowed in parties will be announced shortly.
Germany has a light version of a lockdown in place, with bars and restaurants closed since November along with non-essential shops and beauty salons. Only five people from two households are allowed to meet, but this is being relaxed for Christmas, Christmas Eve and December 26, when up to four close relatives from other households can also be invited — for a total of nine people.
As Australia moves ito summer, its rules are a lot less rigid than in many other countries. Each state has its own rules — but much larger amounts of people are allowed to gather in both inside and public venues. In some states private homes can have as many as 50 people in South Australia for example. Parties outside can be larger. In undivided outside space parties can be as large as 1000 people in Tasmania as long as the one person per two square metres rule is followed.
In Italy inter-regional travel is banned from 20 December to January 6, and people can’t leave their home towns at all on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and NewYear’s Day. A curfew from 10 pm to 5 am is in place, so midnight mass has been moved forward on Christmas Eve to allow people to attend.
Covid rules vary by state, but there are some guidelines from the White House on how people should guard against the pandemic. These include: avoiding social gatherings of more than 10 people, avoid eating in restaurants, bars or food courts and go for drive-thru service or pick ups or delivery options.
Brazil is one of the hardest hit countries — with its President Jair Bolsonaro catching the disease. But their Covid rules appear to be quite lax, with few special rules over the Christmas period. The largest Brazillian city of Sao Paulo has now ordered shops to close early and for restaurants to limit to reduce the number of its indoor customers. But there are little other restrictions in other parts of the country and a laissez faire approach seems to be the order of the day.
In South Africa public beaches have been closed, and the sale of alcohol is prohibited from Monday to Thursday, and its consumption is banned in all public spaces. So hard luck for those that thought they could breeze through Christmas with the help of liquor. There is a curfew from 11 pm to 4 am each day.