Europe faces Christmas lockdowns after Covid 'red alert' – but how does the UK compare?

Europe threatens another Christmas lockdown as heads of state and government strive to thwart rising Covid cases and deaths.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the continent is at the epicenter of the pandemic.

A statement by the Agency’s Regional Director for Europe earlier this month said the current situation was “alarming”.

And over the past few weeks it has appeared that the continent’s plight has worsened, forcing some politicians to act.

Austria will be completely closed again from Monday, with Germany likely to be on the verge of following this example.

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Men drink wine at the soon-to-be-closed Naschmarkt in Vienna, Austria
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It will be the first country in Western Europe to reintroduce measures.

This means that non-essential stores will be closed and Austrians have been instructed to work from home.

Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday that people will be legally obliged to stab themselves twice until February 1.

The restrictions apply until December, but will be reassessed after 10 days, authorities said.

What is the current situation in Europe?

Austria

Austria’s daily newly confirmed cases of Covid per million inhabitants are 1,400.

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In total, it has delivered 12.53 million vaccines, according to Our World in Data.

As mentioned earlier, this has spurred the country’s leaders to act – and to go back into lockdown.

When announcing the measures, the Austrian Chancellor said: “We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated.

“It hurts that such measures have yet to be taken.”

Belgium

A vial containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
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Belgium’s daily newly confirmed cases of Covid per million people stand at 1,180.

In total, it has administered 17.01 million vaccines, according to Our World in Data.

The country tightened its Covid measures this week and required home work four days a week.

This is said to have led to a backlash from employers and professional associations.

Mask-wearing measures have also been stepped up to counter a rapid rise in cases.

Children from 10 – it was 12 before – have to wear face covering in many situations today.

Netherlands

A woman is shopping at the soon-to-be-closed Naschmarkt in Vienna
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AFP via Getty Images)

The daily new confirmed cases of Covid in the Netherlands per million people are 1,050.

In total, it has delivered 24.38 million vaccines, according to Our World in Data.

The country returned to a partial lockdown last week – sparking protests.

The government ordered restaurants and shops to close prematurely and blocked spectators from major sporting events.

Supermarkets and non-essential retailers have also been urged to close earlier and social distancing measures will be reinstated.

And the government recommended no more than four visitors to the home from now on.

The move was met with anger by protesters, with police using water cannons to push back the crowd.

United Kingdom

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
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The number of new confirmed cases of Covid in the UK per million people every day is 580.

In total, it has delivered 110.65 million vaccines, according to Our World in Data.

The nation is still in “Plan A” of its Covid response – with no evidence that the government will move to “Plan B”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that at the moment he sees no need to move to the stricter rules or regulations.

This includes mask requirements, vaccination cards and orders from home.

But Mr Johnson admitted he was wary of rising coronavirus cases in parts of Europe.

He said, “At the moment we don’t see anything in the data to suggest we need to move on to Plan B.

“We are sticking to Plan A.

“But what we must certainly recognize is that there is an infection storm in parts of Europe.”

Germany

People wait in front of an urban vaccination bus in Berlin, Germany
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Germany’s daily newly confirmed cases of Covid per million inhabitants are 535.

In total, it has administered 116.2 million vaccines, according to Our World in Data.

The country’s authorities have rung the alarm bells and announced that they will be following in Austria’s footsteps.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said in response to Austria’s announcement that his country was in a “national emergency”.

He said, “We are now in a situation – even if this results in a news alert – where we cannot rule out anything.

“We are in a national emergency.”

Currently, restrictions on unvaccinated people are to be put in place in areas where hospital admissions exceed a set threshold.

According to the rules, unvaccinated people are banned from certain venues such as sporting events, cultural shows and restaurants.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week: “The current pandemic situation in Germany is dramatic.

“The fourth wave hits our country with full force.”

France

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks along the Alexandre III Bridge (Pont Alexandre III) in Paris, France
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France’s daily new confirmed cases of Covid per million people are at 200.

In total, it has delivered 101.99 million vaccines, according to Our World in Data.

Despite high vaccination rates, France is still seeing an increase in infections.

“We’re not done with the pandemic yet,” said President Emmanuel Macron last week.

A health passport became an important requirement across France at the end of July.

People must show proof of vaccination, negative test, or recent recovery from Covid to enter most museums and cinemas.

It is also required to travel by train and plane.

The country has seen a wave of street protests since the measures were introduced.

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