Nearly 4.8 million people across Europe are infected with the coronavirus and 200,587 people have died from the disease, according to the latest figures from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The figures cover the European Economic Area, which includes all European Union member states, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and the United Kingdom. It does not include Switzerland. Most of the deaths occurred in the UK (over 43,000), followed by Italy, Spain and France.
The World Health Organization includes more countries in its “Europe” region, and has a correspondingly higher tally for the continent with 7.8 million cases and 255,000 deaths.
As coronavirus cases spike throughout Europe, France and other nations are looking into extraordinary measures to curb the pandemic.
Read more: What the EU’s new traffic light system means for the pandemic measures
France reported 29,837 new cases on Sunday, slightly down from the record 32,400 logged the day before. The rising cases comes after a strict night-time curfew went into effect in Paris and eight other cities on Saturday evening, running from 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) and 6 a.m. Residents are only allowed to leave their homes if they have a valid reason.
The only valid reasons are commuting to or from work, medical emergencies, caring for relatives or children, or travel to or from airports or train stations for long-distance travel. The recent spike in new cases had prompted the authorities to reimpose state of emergency in the country.
The United Kingdom remains Europe’s worst-affected area in terms of deaths, accounting for almost one-fifth of deaths on the continent.
The UK registered 16,982 new daily COVID-19 infections within 24 hours, according to government data issued on Sunday – up from 16,717 the previous day. The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test was 67 – down from 150 the previous day. The British government continues to struggle to fight the outbreak, with local officials resisting attempts by ministers to impose restrictions by region.
Italy registered 11,705 new coronavirus cases on Sunday – up from the previous record of 10,925 posted the day before. Fatalities increased to 69 – up from 47 the day before, significantly lower than at the height of the pandemic in Italy in March and April, when daily fatalities peaked at more than 900.
The virus has hit the country’s parliament, with 20 lawmakers in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies testing postive for COVID-19. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is due to announce further measures later on Sunday.
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Police in the Czech Republic deployed tear gas and a water cannon to disperse protesters demonstrating against coronavirus restrictions in the capital Prague on Sunday. Thousands rallied in the city’s Old Town Square to protest against bar and restaurant closures and ban on sports competitions.
The demonstration turned violent when organizers ended the rally after it exceeded the protest limit of 500 participants. Some protesters threw beer bottles, stones and other objects at police. The Czech Republic currently has the highest infection rate in Europe, facing a record surge in infections in recent weeks.
Police used water cannon to break up the anti-coronavirus restrictions demonstration in Prague
Slovakia plans to test everyone in the country over the age of 10 for the virus this month – twice. It was not immediately clear whether testing will be voluntary or mandatory.
Slovenia, meanwhile, has suspended its contact tracing efforts citing the country’s swelling caseload. The country’s public health body said the number of cases was so high that it was unable to successfully conduct tracing of those who test positive. Instead, those infected will be asked to self-isolate and contact those with who they may have come into contact.
Germany wants to address the decline of its city centers, an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic, amid concerns that the holiday season will be the worst for ‘brick and mortar’ retailers for years.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS)that he will meet representatives from the retail sector on Tuesday for talks. Online shopping has experienced tremendous growth and is now even more of a threat to traditional retailers due to social distancing rules and ongoing virus fears.
Meanwhile, Food and Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner warned the public against panic buying despite a spike in cases. “Those who hoard not only act illogically but also in solidarity. And in the end, a lot [of food] ends up in the bin,” she said. Hamsterkauf (hamster buying) is the German term or panic buying or hoarding, as the animals are known for filling their cheeks with food.
Read more: Merkel says Europe must learn coronavirus lessons as situation gets ‘serious’
The Netherlands has hit a new record of daily infections. The National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said Saturday there were 8,114 new cases in the previous 24 hours.
Ireland will bring in “decisive” nationwide COVID-19 restrictions on Monday but will stop short of reintroducing the kind of lockdown imposed earlier this year, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris told public broadcaster RTE.
After hitting a new daily record on Friday, Switzerland is implementing new strict measures to combat the spread of the virus. As of Monday, masks will be required in all indoor public places, including transit stations, schools, child-care facilities and shopping malls. Gatherings of more than 15 people are also not permitted in public.
China has passed a new law to improve its handling of disease outbreaks — including protecting whistleblowers —following a cascade of criticism over its coronavirus response and accusations of an early cover-up.
Taking effect from April 15 next year, the new biosecurity law flags the right to report “acts that endanger biosecurity” and calls for risk prevention systems, ranging from active monitoring to emergency plans. Those who conceal information, omit making reports or prevent others from reporting infectious diseases could be given warnings or suspended.
Read more: China approves new law to protect whistleblowers and prevent epidemics
Day of the Dead celebrations will not be as prominent in Mexico this year as cemeteries have been closed down to prevent the spread of the virus. Day of the Dead observations blend Catholic rituals with the pre-Hispanic belief that the souls of the departed return once a year.
Residents collect marigold flowers and buy the deceased’s favorite things in life, such as food or alcohol, in order to entice them to return to the living world.
Starting October 15, some of the Caribbean state have been reopened for international flights, with Havana a notable exception. Every visitor is tested for the coronavirus upon arrival, and a team of doctors is available in every hotel. The German vacation airline Condor plans to offer flights to Cuba’s most popular tourist destination, the Varadero peninsula, starting October 31.
Discussions are underway between Australia and low-risk countries across Asia and the Pacific to lift coronavirus travel restrictions, but the government has warned that travel to the US and Europe may not be an option until 2022. From Friday, Australia will open its international borders for the first time since March, allowing visitors from New Zealand to travel to the country quarantine-free.
The cruise industry has decided to make coronavirus testing mandatory for all guests and crew members aboard cruise ships. The Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest such organization, announced on October 8 that passengers can only board ships by providing proof of a negative test result. All member shipping companies worldwide must now comply with this rule.
In the wake of significant increases in coronavirus infection figures in Europe, Berlin has announced further EU countries as risk areas for travelers. In addition to Belgium and Iceland, additional areas of France and Great Britain, including all of Northern Ireland and Wales, were also classified as risk areas on September 30.
Thailand is to receive its first foreign vacationers when a flight from China arrives next week, marking the gradual restart of a vital tourism sector battered by coronavirus travel curbs, a senior official said on Tuesday. The first flight will carry some 120 tourists from Guangzhou, flying directly to the resort island of Phuket.
India’s most famous building was closed for six months, but since Monday ( September 21) it can be visited again, under strict restrictions. Only 5000 online tickets will be issued per day. There are temperature checks at the entrance. Selfies are allowed, group photos are prohibited. The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is normally visited by 8 million people every year.
The Foreign Ministry has reacted to higher numbers of coronavirus infections on September 16 by issuing further travel warnings, including Vienna and Budapest. The province of North Holland with Amsterdam as well as South Holland with the cities of The Hague and Rotterdam are also affected. New risk areas were also identified in the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, France, and Switzerland.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector has suffered a loss of 460 billion dollars (388 billion euros) from January to June, the World Tourism Organization reported in Madrid. The loss of sales was five times higher than during the international financial and economic crisis of 2009, and the total number of tourists worldwide fell by 65 percent in the first half of the year.
Germany’s Foreign Office has warned against unnecessary tourism to Czech capital, Prague, and the Swiss cantons Geneva and Vaud (Vaud). This also applies to the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, the French regions Auvergne-Rhones-Alpes (around Lyon), Nouvelle-Aquitaine (around Bordeaux) and Occitania (around Toulouse) as well as more Croatian Adriatic areas, such as the city of Dubrovnik.
The German government has extended its travel warning for around 160 countries through September 30. The advisory applies to “third countries” — i.e. countries that are not members of the EU or associated with the Schengen area. From October 1st, a “differentiated system” will apply, in which individual travel and safety information will be given for each country.
Australia has extended its travel restrictions for a further three months. The borders will remain closed for visitors from abroad until at least December 17. However, the government announced that domestic travel will soon be allowed for residents of the country. An exception will be the state of Victoria, with its metropolis Melbourne, for which a lockdown has been in place since early July.
Germany has added the Canary Islands to its list of coronavirus hotspots. That means ALL of Spain is now considered a high-risk area for German travellers. Infection rates have surged across Spain since lockdown measures were lifted in June.
From Wednesday (Sept. 2), visitors can again enjoy the glass sky deck on the 100th floor of the “30 Hudson Yards” skyscraper in western Manhattan. Only a few days after its opening, the viewing platform had been closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. At 335 meters (1099 ft.), “The Edge” is considered the highest publicly accessible outdoor viewing terrace in the western world.
The German government has extended the travel warning for around 160 countries outside the European Union by two weeks until September 14. A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry explained the move on Wednesday (Aug 26) with rising coronavirus infection rates. “The situation will not relax sufficiently by mid-September to be able to lift the worldwide travel warning,” she said.
On Monday evening (Aug 24) the German government issued a travel warning for the greater Paris area and large parts of the French Mediterranean coast becuase of the increased coronavirus infection rates. The regions of Île-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur have also been included in the updated list of risk areas compiled by the Robert Koch Institute.
With 2,500 instead of 6,000 passengers, the MSC Grandiosa left the port of Genoa on August 16. Stops on the seven-day voyage include Naples, Palermo and Valletta. Passengers and crew were tested for coronavirus before boarding, and body temperature is to be checked on a daily basis. Rival cruise company Costa will not be offering Mediterranean cruises again until September.
Germany’s health and interior ministries have agreed that all of Spain — apart from the Canary Islands — is now a high-risk area due to a surge in cases. Spain said it was closing night clubs across the country. Restaurants, bars and similar venues would need to close by 1 a. m. and would not be allowed to take in new guests after midnight.
France has declared Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone department on the Mediterranean coast around Marseille high-risk coronavirus zones. The measure is in response to a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks.
In the first six months of 2020, 59% fewer tourists came to Berlin than in the previous year. The Statistics Office said on August 10 that 2.7 million guests had visited Berlin, the lowest number since 2004. The slump was even worse for foreign tourists: two thirds stayed away. Since June, the figures have been recovering and are at 30 to 40% of the previous year.
Anyone entering Germany from a high-risk area must take a coronavirus test from August 8, after an order by Health Minister Jens Spahn. Currently, many countries are classified as risk areas, including the United States and Brazil. In the European Union, Luxembourg, the Belgian region of Antwerp and the Spanish regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarre were risk areas as of early August.
Germans can again travel to Turkey. The German government has partially lifted the travel warning for the four popular coastal provinces of Antalya, Izmir, Aydin and Mugla. Travelers must be tested for coronavirus before returning to Germany. The costs of between €15 and 30 must be paid by the traveler. Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Germans.
Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten has stopped all cruises on August 3 until further notice after an outbreak of the coronavirus on one of its ships. At least 40 passengers and crew members on the Roald Amundsen tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, German cruise line Aida Cruises has also postponed its planned restart due to the lack of necessary permits.
Despite coronavirus uncertainty, Nepal has reopened Mount Everest for the autumn trekking and climbing season. To boost the struggling tourism sector the government will permit international flights to land in the country from August 17. The Himalayan country shut its borders in March just ahead of the busy spring season when hundreds of mountaineers usually flock to the country.
On July 28, the German Foreign Office issued an advisory opinion against non-essential tourist trips to the Spanish regions of Aragon, Navarre and Catalonia, citing the high number of COVID-19 infections as well as local restrictions. The Catalan regional government in Barcelona has said it regrets the decision, saying the regional government was acting responsibly while trying to protect lives.
Concerned over a possible second wave of coronavirus, Amsterdam has requested that tourists not visit the Dutch capital on weekends. Potential day-trippers should come between Monday and Thursday, the city said on July 23. The tourist influx has swelled to such a degree that recommended social distancing of 1.5 meters between people is currently not possible in the city center.
In order to manage tourist throngs amid the pandemic, Bavaria’s Economy Minister Hubert Aiwanger is planning a live digital guiding system for visitors. Clogged streets, wild campers and overcrowding on hiking trails in the Alps — this brings popular regions such as Lake Tegernsee (photo) to their limits. The live update system is primarily intended to redirect day-trippers to less full areas.
Visitors to Paris can finally visit the top of the Eiffel Tower again — the third level of the world-famous landmark opened on July 15. The number of tickets available is limited, in order to assure social distancing measures between visitors. Distancing is also in effect at the Disneyland Paris amusement park, which is opening its doors again after a four-month obligatory closure.
Due to illegally held parties, Mallorca has ordered the forced closure of restaurants at Ballermann and Magaluf, resort areas visited by German and British tourists. The regulation came into effect on July 15 for two months. The behavior of a few vacationers and local owners should not jeopardize the huge efforts to fight the pandemic, said Balearic Tourism Minister Iago Negueruela.
On Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands, the regulations for wearing face masks have been tightened. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, mouth and nose protection must be worn from July 13 in all enclosed public spaces as well as outdoors, whenever it is possible to encounter other people. On the beach, at the pool and during sports, however, masks are still not mandatory.
Holiday flights within Europe are on the move again, with passengers sitting close together. According to an opinion poll by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 62% of those questioned are afraid of being infected by passengers in the next seat. This was identified by IATA as the main reason for the decline in willingness to travel, which is now only 45%.
Starting from July 1, people from third countries with low infection rates may enter the EU again as regular travelers. These countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. China will only be considered if it also lifts its entry restrictions for Europeans.
A coronavirus test center has been in operation at Frankfurt airport since June 29. Here, passengers both departing and arriving can be tested to avoid quarantine. The standard procedure, in which the results are available as a download within six to eight hours, costs €59. Around 300 tests can be performed per hour.
The Alhambra Castle in Granada in southern Spain opened its doors to tourists again on June 17. Initially, only 4,250 visitors were admitted at the same time — only half as many as usual. In addition, masks are mandatory. The Alhambra is considered the most important testimony to Arab architecture in Europe and is a World Heritage site.
Entry regulations, masks, quarantine? The new EU overview website “reopen.europa.eu” provides information on the coronavirus rules of individual EU countries — and in 24 languages. Tourists can enter their destination country on the website and find out about regulations that apply there. So far, the site contains information on 27 EU countries and is to be continuously updated.
During the night of June 15, the federal police ended the border controls that had been introduced three months ago due to the coronavirus crisis. Complete freedom of travel between Germany and its neighboring countries is back in effect. At the same time, the Foreign Office’s travel warnings for 27 European countries ended.
The beaches of the world people dream of, like here on Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, will have to do without German tourists. The German government has extended the travel warning for tourists due to the coronavirus pandemic for more than 160 countries outside the EU until August 31. However, exceptions can be made for individual countries where the spread of the virus has been sufficiently contained.
Some 6,000 Germans will be the first foreign tourists to be allowed to travel to the Balearic Islands from June 15. According to Spanish media, the pilot project is intended to test the security precautions at airports and hotels before all of Spain opens its borders on July 1. Germany was chosen because the epidemiological situation there is similar to that on the Balearic Islands.
Starting on June 3, tourists from Europe have been allowed to enter Italy again, the country that was one of the worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic worldwide. A two-week quarantine for travelers from Europe was no longer required. This should save the travel season. Italians will again be able to move freely throughout the country and travel to other regions.
The 14 cruise ships of the German Rostock-based shipping company Aida Cruises will remain in port until July 31. In many holiday destination countries the regulations for international tourism were still being discussed, the company announced. The Italian shipping company Costa also extended the cruise suspension for its fleet until July 31.
Rome’s 2,000-year-old landmark could finally be visited again from June 1, and the Vatican Museums also reopened on that day. Ancient Pompeii, south of Naples at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, welcomed visitors early, but only those from within the country. Foreign tourists had to wait until June 3 to visit the ancient sites.
From May 25, Greece’s islands were accessible again by plane and ferry for domestic tourists. Taverns, bars and cafes reopened nationwide. Ferries were to sell only 50% of their tickets, and taverns were only allowed to occupy half of their tables. The list of countries from which foreign tourists can enter Greece without a two-week quarantine was set to be announced at the end of May.
The Austrian government has announced that the border with Germany will be opened on June 15. Tourism in Austria has been effectively suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. On May 29, hotels and other accommodation in Austria will be allowed to reopen. Austrian tourism is heavily dependent on guests from Germany.
Borkum, Juist (photo) and the other East Frisian islands are happy to be able to greet tourists again, even if it’s a limited surge of visitors. Since May 11, overnight stays in holiday apartments and camping sites throughout Lower Saxony have been allowed again. Holidaymakers must stay at least one week. However, day tourists and hotel overnight stays are still prohibited.
Holidaymakers might also be able to travel to the Balearic or Greek Islands in summer. “If there are very few new infections there and the medical care works, one could also think about a summer holiday in those places”, the government’s commissioner for tourism, Thomas Bareiss, told the Tagesspiegel newpaper. Long-distance travel, however, is likely to be canceled this summer.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the first federal state to reopen to tourists from all over Germany: From May 25th they can again stay in hotels, guest houses and holiday homes. 60 percent of the bed capacity will be released for this purpose. This means that the tourist season can start with the Whitsun holidays in popular holiday regions like the Baltic Sea and the Mecklenburg Lake District.
Germany extended on Wednesday (April 29) its worldwide travel warning due to the coronavirus crisis to at least June 14. The Federal Foreign Office said that “severe and drastic restrictions in international air and travel traffic and worldwide entry restrictions, quarantine measures and restrictions on public life in many countries can still be expected.”
Oktoberfest has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bavaria’s premier Markus Söder and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter announced the decision on April 21.”It pains us, and it is a great pity,” said Söder. But in times of the coronavirus, the danger of infection at the folk festival, which attracts about 6 million visitors annually, would just be too great.
Israel will reduce some lockdown restrictions from Sunday. Residents will be allowed to travel more than one kilometer (about 0.6 miles) from their homes. Beaches, national parks, and children’s nurseries are expected to re-open as well.
“We will exit (lockdown) carefully this time, in line with the plan set out by the experts at the health ministry,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday.
There were 1,695 newly reported cases on Friday in Israel, compared to between 8,000-9,000 cases every day at the end of September.
Saudi Arabia has allowed people within the kingdom to pray at the Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca, one of the holiest sites for Muslims. The mosque was closed to the public for nearly seven months over coronavirus concerns. The move comes soon after residents and citizens were allowed to take part in the Umrah pilgrimage at Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest sites.
Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has loosened lockdown restrictions as new and active COVID-19 continue to decline. From Sunday, residents will no longer face strict limits on the time they can spend away from their homes for education or recreation.
Previous restrictions stopped them from traveling more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) from home, but the limit has been extended to 25 kilometers (15 miles). The city had been placed under a severe lockdown for more than 100 days due to a surge in cases.
New Zealand confirmed a new community case Sunday, just two weeks after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the country “beat the virus again.”
The Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the case was caught the day the man developed symptoms, so the ministry of health “was able to self-isolate close contacts, which is a good reminder to the rest of New Zealanders for best practice.”
The announcement came a day after Ardern’s Labour party won a landslide election, with her handling of the virus considered a major factor.
mvb, mm, kbd/rs (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)