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COVID-19

How Europe is ramping up restrictions to prevent a coronavirus resurgence

Here is an overview of recent restrictions being imposed in countries across Europe, including localised lockdowns, mandatory testing and obligations to wear face masks among others.

How Europe is ramping up restrictions to prevent a coronavirus resurgence
People wearing face masks queue while a security guard uses a thermometer to check people's temperatures outside a mass for victims of the coronavirus at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus have led many European countries to tighten measures as they battle to prevent its spread again.
  
Spain 

The number of daily notified cases has climbed to 1,738 or 92 percent more than the previous week.

From July 17th, almost four million residents in Spain's second city Barcelona have been urged to stay home by the Catalan regional government.

The government also ordered the closure of cinemas, theatres and nightclubs and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. Restaurants must limit capacity to one-half the usual number.

Since July 15th, people have also been told to stay home in and around the Catalan city of Lerida, a measure affecting around 250,000 people. 

Many regions around Spain have imposed restrictions on bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Faced with a resurgence of infections, many Spanish regions, although not Madrid, have tightened the requirement to wear masks.

In those regions, masks must now be worn at all times in the street and in enclosed public spaces.

People wearing face masks walk along La Misericordia Beach in Malaga on July 22nd, 2020. Photo: AFP

Portugal 

Lisbon has reported 218 daily cases, a decline of 28 percent from the previous week. 

Lockdown at home has been the rule since July 1st for 700,000 inhabitants in the capital region.

That measure has been extended at least until the end of July.

Britain

London has reported 662 daily cases, a weekly decline of 12 percent.

Britain is the only western European country where the number of daily deaths remains high however, at around 65 per day.

On June 30th, the central city of Leicester began a localised two-week lockdown with non-essential shops shutting. The restriction had now been partially eased.

Facemasks — already compulsory in Scotland — are now also mandatory in all English shops and supermarkets as of July 24th.

On July 26th, Britain introduced a quarantine for visitors from Spain.

Ireland

Dublin has reported 17 daily cases, a decline of nine percent.

Having initially planned to open bars fully from July 13th, the date was pushed back to August 10th owing to a resurgence of cases. Gatherings are limited to 50 people indoors and 200 outdoors, and wearing masks in shops will be compulsory.

France 

Paris has reported 823 daily cases, an increase of 55 percent.

A negative virus test will become mandatory at the latest on August 1st for visitors from 16 countries, including the United States, Brazil and Algeria. Otherwise travellers are to be tested on arrival and go into quarantine if  positive.

The authorities have advised against travel to Catalonia.

France imposes obligatory testing at airports for arrivals from 16 countries. Photo: AFP

 

The wearing of face masks has also become obligatory by law in all indoor public spaces including shops and public buildings. Those who don't adhere to the rule face fines of €135.

Regional authorities ordered night-time curfews for beaches and bars in the Brittany resort of Quiberon on the Atlantic coast, after a fast-spreading Covid-19 cluster emerged there last week and in some towns local authorities have also made masks compulsory on the street.

READ ALSO: Is France heading towards a second wave of coronavirus?

Belgium

Brussels has reported 318 daily cases, a surge of 149 percent.

“We are very worried,” said Belgian PM Sophie Wilmes who urged Belgians to once again work from home if they could.

She said the aim was to avoid a new national lockdown, but also didn't rule it out if the situation continues to worsen.

From July 29th, and for four weeks, the number of people who can gather together has been reduced to five from 15.

Public events are limited to 100 people indoors, instead of 200 previously, and 200 outside, instead of 400.

Wearing a mask was made compulsory from July 11th for everyone over the age of 12 in enclosed public spaces including shops, cinemas, libraries and places of worship.

Germany

Authorities have reported 528 daily cases, an increase of 33 percent.

Despite being less affected by the pandemic than many neighbours, Germany's federal and regional governments have agreed on tougher, targeted lockdown measures to contain local outbreaks and ward off the threat of a second coronavirus wave, including a ban on travel “in and out of the affected areas”.

Meanwhile, Germany is set to make coronavirus tests mandatory for travellers returning from risk areas, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday July 27th.

“We must prevent returning travellers from infecting others unnoticed and thus triggering new chains of infection,” Spahn wrote on Twitter.

The rule is set to come into effect next week. The tests are to be free of charge for travellers.

Germany's public health institute RKI currently considers around 130 nations worldwide to be “risk countries”, with EU and Schengen area neighbours among the exceptions.

On Friday, Germany announced it would offer free coronavirus tests to all returning travellers and had been considering if it would make them mandatory for people coming back from areas deemed high risk.

The new measures will see test facilities installed at airports across the country.

Austria

Vienna has reported 127 daily cases, a rise of 18 percent

On July 24th, masks became mandatory in supermarkets, post offices, banks and medical centres.

Italy 

Rome has reported 241 daily cases, an increase of 23 percent.

In Campania in the southern Naples region, a 1,000-euro ($1,180) fine was imposed on July 25th in establishments that allow clients to go without masks.

Coach passengers who arrive in Rome from abroad will also be tested.

Norway

Authorities in Norway now advise against travel to Spain and Andorra, however. That is due in part to increased infection spread in some parts of northern Spain, particularly in the northern regions Aragón and Catalonia.

Travellers from Spain to Norway must now quarantine for ten days upon return. The quarantine rule is not applied retroactively and will come into effect from the time of implementation on Friday.

Sweden

Sweden, which was far worse affected by the coronavirus outbreak than its Nordic neighbours this spring, has unlike much of Europe been seeing a sharp downturn in the number of new daily cases since early July. The number of coronavirus deaths is now at around seven deaths a day on a 14-day average scale.

Public events of more than 50 people remain banned, as are visits to elderly care homes. Schools for over-16s and universities are generally set to reopen to students when the autumn semester starts.

Health chiefs have said that they are unlikely to introduce new measures such as travel restrictions or face masks while the curve is pointing downward, but preparations are being made for a potential second wave.

The Public Health Agency has published three different scenarios for how the pandemic may play out this autumn – one where the infection rate remains at a low level, one medium-case scenario where the virus spreads in uneven clusters, and one worst-case where new cases increase steadily.

Member comments

  1. Anyone with a single brain cell knew that when travel in France was opened up the virus cases would increase. The country was opened up far too early.

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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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