As EU countries continue to battle high infection rates of Covid-19 through national or regional lockdowns, it is too soon to say if current travel restrictions will be relaxed for the Christmas period.
However, there are indicators that many countries might try to relax rules around household mingling, to allow families to come together to celebrate.
The U.K. might allow a five-day relaxation of rules
The BBC reported on how the government’s medical adviser, Susan Hopkins, said they were working on a plan and wanted Christmas to be “as close to normal as possible”.
Speculation is that a five-day relaxation of household mixing might be allowed and ideally across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, to allow families to cross borders to celebrate.
Scotland is preparing for a “digital Christmas”
In Scotland, first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s most senior public health adviser, Jason Leitch, has told people that they should prepare themselves for a “digital Christmas”.
Meanwhile, all 4 countries in the U.K. are working together to get students home from schools and universities through a “student travel window” from 3 December to 9 December.
Germany closes its Christmas markets
Germany is considering allowing private gatherings in public for up to two households over the Christmas period but has cancelled all its Christmas markets.
The mayor of Leipzig, which traditionally has a large festive market said, “I’m a big fan of the Christmas market myself. But we have to face realities. Health comes first. I am pleased that we can still decorate the streets and squares and thus offer the people of Leipzig a bit of a Christmas atmosphere.”
Sweden might limit travel and restricts alcohol sales
As reported by the BBC, Sweden’s top epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told Swedes to prepare for the possibility that travel would be limited to specific areas throughout the Christmas period, so that healthcare services and providers would not be submerged.
However, he also said that a decision would be made in two or three weeks—many of Sweden’s new infections are coming from private parties. That’s why the sale of alcohol has been banned after 10pm.
Ireland tells Irish overseas ‘too soon’ to book tickets
Irish deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, told citizens of Ireland living abroad, that they shouldn’t be booking flights yet to return to Ireland for Christmas, when it was much “too soon” to give any advice on travel restrictions over the festive period.
Italy has promised a lockdown-free Christmas for Santa
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte reassured the children of Italy via a Facebook post that Santa Claus will be able to deliver presents as normal this Christmas, because “he is good and he will surely wear a face mask to protect himself”.
The news is similar to the promise prime minister Jacinda Ardern made New Zealand children during the first wave of the pandemic that the Easter Bunny and tooth fairy were essential workers and could continue to travel around the country visiting families.
The Hague’s Sinterklaas festival without crowds
In the Hague, in the Netherlands, the annual televised parade through the streets, for Saint Nicholas, called Sinterklaas, took place without any crowds.
The event held in mid November, allows Sinterklaas to arrive by boat before celebrating Christmassy traditions, according to AP, on 5 December.
France allows Christmas trees but no plans
French prime minister, Jean Castex was asked about Christmas at a press conference and whilst it was too early to say, as reported by The Local, the government’s objective was to allow for “French family celebrations,” but Christmas would “not be as usual” this year. “It is not reasonable to hope for big parties or gatherings of several dozen people, especially on New Year’s Eve,” he said.
However, French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie confirmed that Christmas trees would be considered essential items for the holiday period and that people could begin selling trees on November 20th. French residents are only currently allowed to leave their homes to buy essential items and the government has been heavily lobbied to allow sales to go ahead. 6 million trees are sold in France each Christmas and 80%–as reported by The Connexion–are homegrown.
France’s prime minister, Jean Castex, has said it is too soon for anyone in France to be making Christmas travel plans. France is currently under a four-week lockdown where everyone needs to download a form, une attestation, explaining why they are leaving the house. People are only allowed to go out to work (if they cannot work from home) and conduct essential shopping, seek medical help or medication or to exercise for one hour, no further than 1 km from their house (0.62 miles).