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COVID-19

In Depth: How Europe is ramping up new lockdown measures to fight coronavirus pandemic

The European Union agreed to close its external borders as countries ramped up their lockdown measures in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a look at how countries are tackling the crisis.

In Depth: How Europe is ramping up new lockdown measures to fight coronavirus pandemic
AFP

The European Union has agreed to close its external borders for 30 days.

The entry of non-EU nationals will be restricted unless they have visas. EU nationals and Britons will be allowed to enter the EU though.

Quarantine, schools, shops and borders closed, gatherings banned, here are the main measures being taken in Europe to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Confinement

Italy and Spain, Austria and the Czech Republic, have taken strict confinement measures. Their citizens can go out only to work, for health reasons or to buy food.

France's President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation on Monday evening to announce that the government was ordering people to stay home for 15 days unless for essential reasons.

Those reasons included grocery shopping, exercise, medical appointments and walking the dog. But it was now forbidden to friends or families outside. Anyone caught disobeying the rule would be subject to a 38 euro fine that could rise to €135.

The British government has asked people displaying symptoms to remain at home for a week.

Greece has imposed a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals.

People returning from the main coronavirus hotspots must stay at home for two weeks in Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Russia and Slovakia. Germany has recommended the same.

 Borders controlled or closed

Spain announced Monday it would close its land borders at midnight.

Germany has stepped up border controls with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, only allowing through goods transit and border workers.

France is to bolster checks with Germany, while not closing its border completely.

Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Lithuania and Slovakia have announced the closure of their borders to foreigners, with Slovakia making an exception for Poles.

Russia has closed its land borders with Norway and Poland.

Austria has almost entirely closed its border with Italy.

Schools closed 

Schools, universities and creches are closed in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal,  Romania, Russia, Slovakia,  Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine.

Gatherings banned

In Belgium, Cyprus and Italy all gatherings have been banned.

Gathering of more than five people are banned in Austria and the Swiss canton of Geneva, while the Czech Republic has prohibited meetings with more than 30.

Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland have set the threshold at 100 people, as have Hungary and Romania for closed meetings.

Finland and Sweden have set the bar at 500 people.

Germany has cancelled  non-essential events gathering less than 1,000 people, a threshold also in force in Poland, Portugal and Romania.

Moscow has banned meetings of more than 50 indoors and set limits on outdoor events.

Restaurants and shops closed

Non-essential businesses have been closed in Andorra, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain.

In Belgium, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants are closed, as are pubs in Ireland.

Luxembourg and the Netherlands have ordered the closure of all places and businesses open to the public.

Greece has closed its museums and archaeological sites.

Transport disrupted

France has announced a gradual reduction of long-distance transport, including buses, planes and trains.

In Germany regional rail transport will also be heavily reduced.

Rome's second airport, Ciampino, is closed, while Fiumicino is to close one of its three terminals from Tuesday.

Poland has cancelled all domestic flights.

Ukraine has suspended air links and Russia has reduced them with the European Union.

Austria has suspended rail links with Italy and air links with France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

All Covid travel rules for Norway have been completely lifted for a while now- but what happens if you test positive or start to develop Covid symptoms while you are here?

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

Covid travel rules in Norway have been lifted for a while, and all but a few recommendations remain domestically. This is a far cry from a similar time last year when Norway had very strict travel rules in place. 

Testing

Close contacts of Covid infected are not required to get a test, meaning if you have been in contact with somebody with Covid-19, you will not be required to get tested under the official rules. 

However, if you wish to take a test, you can buy self-tests at supermarkets and pharmacies. You can also order Covid-19 tests from Norwegian municipalities if you want a PCR test. You can find the contact information for every municipality in Norway here. Facemasks are also widely available in shops and pharmacies. 

Several private providers, such as Volvat and Dr Dropin, offer antigen and PCR tests with results within 24 hours. However, municipality tests can take longer to deliver results. If you need a test to travel home, you will not be able to get one from a local authority. These tests are only for those with symptoms of Covid-19.  

Home tests will not cost more than 60 kroner from supermarkets, while a municipality test will be free. However, private providers’ tests are pricier, costing between 1,000 and 1,500 kroner at most private clinics.

Isolation

There are also no specific rules in regards to isolation. 

“If you have respiratory symptoms, you should stay at home until you feel well. If you feel well, you can live as normal,” Helsenorge advises on its websiteMeaning that if you are asymptomatic, you aren’t advised to isolate. 

Other symptoms which you may need to isolate with include headache and blocked nose and influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and feeling unwell. 

The isolation information means you will need to liaise with the hotel or accommodation you are staying at. 

Travellers are advised to check what their insurance covers before taking out a policy to avoid being left out of pocket if they have to pay for new flights or an extended stay because they are isolating. 

If you test positive, you are also advised to steer clear of those in risk groups. 

Self-isolation advice applies regardless of vaccination status or previous infection. 

What else should I know? 

If your symptoms get worse, the best course of practice would be to contact a standard GP.

You can also contact the out-of-hours urgent care number on 116 117. This will put you through to the nearest urgent care centre to you. Visitors can also call for an ambulance on 113, but this is only advisable in life-threatening situations, such as a stroke or cardiac arrest.

In addition to checking your insurance policy, you also will need to check the rules of the country you are returning to or travelling through in case you may need a test to enter. 

If you have an EHIC card and receive medical care after testing positive for Covid-19, you will only be required to pay the same subsidised fees Norwegians do for healthcare. Despite this, European citizens are also advised to take out travel insurance. 

Non-European visitors are entitled to urgent medical care but will need to pay the full cost with no prospect of reimbursement if they don’t have health insurance. 

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