COVID-19 | Bitter wine and broken glasses ahead of Christmas in Europe

Street mulled wine stalls have their hours counted in Germany, which this week has broken several records for daily COVID-19 infections: almost 30,000 new positive cases and 598 deaths were recorded on Friday. The Chancellor herself, Angela Merkel, stated a few days ago before the Bundestag that the price in lives that was paid for this tradition during the pandemic was unacceptable. The decision is in the hands of the regional governments. The Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, considers that it will be necessary to tighten the restrictions “as soon as possible and in a uniform way throughout the country” in order to be effective.

Nor are they for Christmas carols at the World Health Organization (WHO). Its CEO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has again issued a warning message:

“The holiday season is a time to relax and celebrate, but we must not lower our guard. The celebration can quickly turn into sadness,” he said at a press conference.

France also seems resigned to “making concessions” after the end of the last lockdown, scheduled for next Tuesday, December 15. From that day on, a curfew will apply throughout the country from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., including New Year’s Eve.

“Everyone has been trying for months, so many people were waiting for the arrival of December 31 to relax a bit, but it has become complicated. So it is difficult to know what to think …”, affirmed a Parisian.

The French government will authorize trips to visit family at Christmas, the only day without a curfew, but museums, cinemas and theaters will remain closed as a precaution, as will football stadiums and sports centers.

“It is a hard blow because we had prepared to act, the theaters were going to open, the actors wanted to act, they were all prepared and it was a magnificent prospect. We no longer have it,” laments theater producer Jean-Marc Dumontet.

Cyprus has also decided to shut down bars, restaurants, shopping malls and even churches to slow the spread of the pandemic. Rapid antigen tests in Cyprus have shown that “the virus is practically everywhere”.

Portugal presented on Friday a 3.4 billion euro rescue plan for the national airline TAP Air Portugal, which involves the layoff of 3,500 employees, a third of its workforce and severe pay cuts. In addition, it depends on the approval of Brussels.