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Restrictions due to COVID-19 are still in effect.

By Cailey Rizzo
Updated December 22, 2020
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Place de l’Hotel de Ville in Paris, France
Place de l’Hotel de Ville in Paris, France
| Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

As COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise in Europe, several countries have entered another lockdown and re-implemented restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus that has extended into holiday time.

Nightly curfews are in effect in most countries, along with restrictions about gatherings. Although most of these measures will be relaxed for the Christmas holiday period, each country has their own rules about how people will be able to celebrate during the pandemic.

In the UK, a new, potentially more contagious strain of COVID-19 has also sparked further travel bans and restrictions.

Below is a breakdown of new COVID-19 restrictions for the UK and several European countries ahead of the holidays.  

United Kingdom

London
Credit: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

More than 40 countries around the world have suspended travel to the UK following the news of a new strain of COVID-19 emerged.

London entered a strict “Tier 4” lockdown over the weekend, prompting many to leave the capital before regulations were put in place. Non-essential shops were ordered to close and most travel restricted, with employees to work from home when possible. Tier 4 residents are no longer allowed to stay overnight away from home and cannot travel abroad. 

The travel bans caused crowds and confusion at UK ports, with crowds building at many train stations to get out of the capital before the new restrictions took effect on Dec. 20. 

The U.S. has not suspended flights to and from the UK, although New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on airlines like Delta, Virgin Airlines, and British Airways to test passengers for COVID-19 before coming to New York.

France

On Dec. 15, France eased lockdown restrictions that had been in place since October. 

A nightly curfew remains in place and residents must remain in their homes from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. Those who are out during curfew hours must carry an "attestation." The curfew will be lifted on Dec. 24 but not Dec. 31. 

As Christmas approaches, the government recommends that gatherings are kept to a maximum of six adults, although that is just a recommendation and not a rule. 

“We know that the gatherings over the holidays present a risk,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said, The Local France reported. “For all these reasons we need to keep our guard up, stay vigilant. . . and let everyone benefit from the holidays, but without risking provoking an epidemic resurgence.”

Previously, residents were required to fill out an “attestation” permission slip before they left home, detailing their route and intent. The rule has since been lifted. 

Bars and restaurants will remain closed through Christmas, until at least Jan. 20. Cultural centres like cinemas and theatres will remain closed until at least Jan. 7. Ski resorts may be permitted to reopen in January. 

International travel and travel between regions is once again permitted. Masks remain compulsory when in public. 

Germany

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a “hard” lockdown ahead of Christmas, which will last through at least Jan. 10, according to The BBC. 

Schools, retails stores and businesses like hair salons have been ordered to close. Restaurants are only allowed to operate takeout and no eating or drinking can take place onsite. 

Indoor meetings are restricted to a maximum of five adults. The only exception is on Christmas Day, when one household can invite a maximum of four close family members from other households. 

Germany has also banned the sale of fireworks to celebrate New Year’s (to prevent any unnecessary visits to the hospital while they’re battling COVID-19) and banned all public outdoor gatherings on New Year’s Eve.

Additionally, the festive Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, was canceled for the first time since World War II.

Italy

Christmas tree in St. Peter square. Vatican City
Credit: Rocco Spaziani/Archivio Rocco Spaziani/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Image

Italy will be under “red zone” restrictions from Dec. 24 through Jan. 6. People will only be allowed to leave their house for essentials or work, The BBC reported this week. But the restrictions will be relaxed Dec. 28 through 30 and again on Jan. 4. On those days, shops can remain open until 9:00 p.m. and people will be allowed to move freely, however bars and restaurants will remain closed. 

The country is also under a curfew, with residents to remain in their homes from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. every night. 

But during the holidays, Italians are allowed to host a maximum of two adult guests in their homes.

“Our experts were seriously worried that there would be a jump in cases over Christmas... We therefore had to act," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a press conference, according to The BBC.

Spain

Across Spain, the country has imposed rules for the holiday period from Dec. 23 through Jan. 6, but regional governments may strengthen the restrictions, according to The Local Spain. Travel between regions during this time is only permitted to visit friends and family. 

Social gatherings for Christmas and New Year’s are limited to 10 people, including children. A nightly curfew is in effect from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the curfew will not start until 1:30 a.m.Each of Spain’s 17 regional authorities have enacted their own rules for residents. Rules are strictest in Valencia, where regional borders are closed, even to those visiting family.

Visits to the Balearic and Canary Islands require a COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Belgium

Belgium’s coronavirus cases peaked in late October, when the country was reporting more than 20,000 new daily cases. That number has remained less than 5,000 since the start of December. 

A curfew is in effect in major cities from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. 

Non-essential shops were permitted to reopen but bars and restaurants must remain closed until Jan. 15. 

On Dec. 24 and 25, households will be allowed close contact with one additional person and the curfew will be pushed back until midnight. 

Belgium could announce new Christmas restrictions this week, according to The Brussels Times

Netherlands

The Netherlands have entered a strict five-week lockdown, due to last until Jan. 19.  

Bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-October, but that has not done much to slow the spread of coronavirus infections. Schools and non-essential shops were ordered closed this week and citizens have been instructed to avoid nonessential overseas travel until mid-March. 

From Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, restrictions will be ever-so-slightly lifted, with households allowed to welcome three guests instead of two (not counting children younger than 13), The Associated Press reported.

"We have to bite this very sour apple before things get better,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced to the country this week. “And yes they will get better. There will come a time when coronavirus will be behind us, when our lives will be normal again. It won't be now, or in a week, or a month. But with the vaccine, 2021 will indeed be a year of hope and of light at the end of the tunnel."

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at caileyrizzo.com.