New Europe Travel Bans (And Protests), As Covid-19 Surges

With rising infection rates of Covid-19 across all EU countries, many governments have implemented new travel restrictions this week, leading some groups and politicians to protest.

EU countries are using the European Centre for Disease Control’s ‘traffic light’ system for determining travel restrictions, which this week, labelled all countries as red, except for Norway and Finland–a big change on the week before, where some countries had been orange or green.

Most countries are still opting to keep schools open where possible across Europe (particularly for younger children) to try to alleviate the stress of childcare on parents. Many of the lockdowns are much lighter in nature than those imposed in March and don’t call for a complete ban on movement.

This week, many countries though–such as across France and some Italian regions–opted to take high school down to half classes, or to continue lessons online.

Italy shuts down 4 entire regions

As rates spiked across Italy, many of its regions were put into strict lockdown conditions with the closure of many non-essential businesses across the country.

AP News reported that the northern regions of Lombardy (which includes Milan), Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta and the southern region of Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot, will be under increased restrictions for the next 15 days.

This implies the closure of all non-essential stores, take-out only service for bars and restaurants, distance learning for students 12 and over and a ban on leaving hometowns except for work, health or other serious reasons.

Sicily and Puglia, two other southern regions, are now under a second tier of restrictions. The rest of Italy is under a 10 pm curfew with restaurants forced to close by 6 pm.

Whilst Italy reported a record number of Covid-19 cases, many local politicians vowed to fight the enforced national lockdowns, such as the governor of Calabria.

Germany reducing quarantine from high-risk countries

Germany’s rates of contracting Covid-19 are also increasing; the country has doubled the number of patients in intensive care in just 10 days and set a new record of over 21,500 new confirmed cases on Friday.

On 2 November, the country went into lockdown but from 8 November it is changing its travel regulations slightly. Currently, all visitors arriving, who have been in high-risk countries 14-days prior, must take a Covid-19 test and remain in quarantine until the results come back (usually a few hours and the test is free). If the results are positive, they must quarantine for 2 weeks but after 8 November, this period will become 10 days. Anyone else with a negative test must quarantine for 5 days.

Thousands took to the streets in Liepzig on Saturday to protest against the further restrictions of movement.

France imposes Covid-19 testing on all arrivals

As France headed into its second lockdown, the French Health Minister Olivier Veran announced Thursday, whilst implementing even stricter travel restrictions in Paris, that “the second wave is here, and it is violent.”

President Emmanuel Macron said that non-essential trips are no longer authorized, and though internal borders with the European Union area are open, all external borders have been closed. France is deploying rapid thirty-minute testing at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and all ports, which are much quicker but less accurate than the three-day turnaround for standard tests.

Macron said that “no traveller should be able to enter European territory without being certain that he is not carrying the virus.” French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, also emphasized that all arrivals would need testing.

The French government is still under fire for closing small businesses but allowing large retailers to continue selling.

Denmark instigated a lockdown after a mink outbreak

The country placed almost a million people into lockdown in the north after a mutated version of Covid-19 was found in 12 people, infected by minks. AP News reported that all 15 million minks will be culled across the country and that farmers would be compensated. Mink farmers announced that it would be the end of their businesses.

Spain has introduced more mandatory testing

Spain’s state of emergency came into effect 1 November putting the entire country under a nationwide curfew from 11pm to 6am.

One addition made was that, from November 14, all arrivals into the Canary Islands, must be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test taken 72 hours before arrival, if aged over 6 or over.

The U.K. starts a four-week lockdown

Prime minister Boris Johnson put England into a lockdown on 5 November, which clearly impacts upon travel restrictions, either to or from the country. Johnson said, “this means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions. Overnight stays away from primary residences will not be allowed, except for specific exceptions including for work.”

International travel to and from the U.K. is still subject to the travel corridor system, where countries are taken on and off safe lists (where quarantine is not required for those on the safe lists).

Many U.K. airlines cancelled incoming and outgoing flights for the next 4 weeks.

Additional updates on other EU countries

With rising infection rates, many other travel restrictions were brought in for residents as well as visitors:

  • Malta closed its bars.
  • Netherlands banned meetings of more than 2 people not from the same household.
  • Luxembourg has had an 11pm curfew in place since 30 October.
  • Portugal implemented a partial lockdown for most of the country (including Porto and Lisbon) meaning that people should stay at home (except for school and work), only leave for essential shopping with shops closing at 10pm and restaurants, 10:30pm.
  • For the month of November, Austria has closed ski resorts, restaurants and bars (except for take out) and Christmas markets. A curfew is in place.

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