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How difficult is this year for Europeans?

The autumn and winter coronavirus epidemic has not yet been eased, and the recent variant of the novel coronavirus, which has spread to many countries, has once again attracted global attention.

For Europeans, Christmas this year is particularly difficult.

Due to the emergence of mutant strains with an increase in infectiousness of 40% to 70%, the United Kingdom has raised the epidemic prevention level in London and southeastern England to the highest level 4, and the people will be in lockdown again.

In addition, more than 50 countries have grounded flights to the United Kingdom.

This has led to stricter social control measures. On 18 December, Italy issued a strict Christmas decree, which imposed a nationwide lockdown from December 24 to January 6, and people were not required to go out.

Each family could receive up to two guests (excluding children under 14 years old). Germany, Netherlands lockdown measures to continue until January, Austria will enter its third lockdown after Christmas, and Sweden has begun to advise people to wear masks…

Many Europeans have said on social media that Christmas this year is “cancelled”.

According to the World Health Organization epidemic statistics, the European region has the second highest number of confirmed cases among the six WHO regions, after the Americas region. As of 8 a.m. CET on December 25, the cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths in the WHO European region exceeded 24.66 million.

WHO epidemic data, grass green for the European region.

From the epidemic statistics chart, it can be seen that the epidemic rebounded sharply after entering autumn and winter in Europe, and so far there is no obvious sign of improvement.

As Christmas and New Year’s Day and other festivals approach, many experts have previously warned that cases in many countries may hit new highs.

How to celebrate European Christmas this year? The Beijing News reporter connected with Chinese and international students in London, Italy, Milan, Nice, France, and Munich, Germany, to hear them introduce how Europeans live this “New Year” under the epidemic.

Chloe, London, United Kingdom

“Everyone thinks they should live a good life, but in the end they may only live alone.”

Chloe has been in London, England, for five years. Before that, he studied at the London Film Academy and stayed in London to work after graduation. At the end of last year, Chloe took advantage of the Christmas holiday to return to spend the Spring Festival with his family.

Chloe returned to London on the second day of the Chinese New Year and never left England since.

Chloe still remembers last Christmas. She went to the house of a British friend and spent Christmas with the friend’s family and an Indian family. For Westerners, Christmas is a day to reunite with family and friends.

At that time, everyone was very happy and made an appointment to spend Christmas together this year. Unexpectedly, however, an epidemic has changed everything.

“In fact, until the second lockdown in November this year, we are still looking forward to Christmas gathering this year.

But by the beginning of December, I gradually realized that this year may not be able to spend together. We have decided to cancel this year’s Christmas dinner before London entered the fourth-level lockdown a few days ago,” Chloe regretfully told reporters.

Streets of London. /Photo provided by interviewees

However, this year’s Christmas atmosphere in London is still very strong, and it does not feel weaker than usual.” Because of the epidemic, many British friends around us feel that Christmas this year should be celebrated.

Some Christmas fairs were still open until London went into a Level 4 lockdown, but there was no way to wander back and forth this year as usual, but only a path straight along,” Chloe said.

From December 20, people in London and other parts of the United Kingdom have entered Level 4 blockade.

People can only celebrate Christmas with their families. They can’t visit their family and friends in other blockade-level areas. From December 26, more parts of England will enter a level four blockade.

Chloe said that because London made it impossible for people who don’t live in the same room to celebrate Christmas together, she had to spend Christmas alone this year.

However, the most regrettable thing is that I have a classmate and his family are in London, but his father told him not to go home for Christmas this year.

But generally speaking, the British friends around them are still looking forward to Christmas. They feel that the epidemic is still the same, so they can only adjust their mentality as much as possible. Many people will still go home and get together with their parents, but it is impossible for several families to get together as usual.

Chloe said that her friends around her were not panicked about the recent mutant strains in Britain and the restrictions on British flights in many countries.” Many people left London as planned and returned to other places for Christmas – just like the Spring Festival travel rush at home.

After entering the level four blockade, supermarkets are short of supplies, because many people are concentrated on buying a large number of supplies, but on the whole, it is not as exaggerated as the first blockade in Britain in March this year.

Milan, Italy Fire

“In memory of the patients who have died due to the coronavirus, Christmas lights have been cancelled in many places”

“This year’s Christmas is really lonely,” Huo Huo (alias) told the Beijing News reporter.

Fire has lived in Milan, Italy since childhood, and still has different feelings for Christmas.

However, this year’s epidemic has given her a very different Christmas.

In normal years, in December, some Christmas decorations, such as colored lights, Christmas trees, etc., will begin to be decorated everywhere.

But this year, Christmas lights were not installed in many places in Milan to mourn the patients who died because of the coronavirus.” Except for Milan’s Duomo Cathedral, which is a little more lively, the Christmas atmosphere in other places is relatively low.

The traditionally very lively Christmas fair has also been cancelled long ago.

Italy is probably one of the most stringent European countries in lockdown during Christmas. Starting December 24, Italy entered a two-week national lockdown, and the curfew from 10 a.m. every night to 5 a.m. the next day also continued.

During this period, the whole country entered the “red zone” from December 24 to 27, December 31, January 1 to 3, and January 5 to 6, and residents are not allowed to leave their residences except for necessary circumstances.

December 28-30 and January 4 are “Orange District”, and the control is slightly relaxed. Residents can leave home but not the towns they live in.

“This year’s Christmas can only be spent at home, and there is no way to visit a party or anything. The Italians around them basically do not go home to visit their relatives, but choose to stay where they are,” Huohuo said.

She regretted that although it was to prevent infection, it must be very disappointing that such an important holiday could not be spent with her relatives.

Fire reminds me of Christmas years ago. Several families had Christmas Eve parties together.

It was really happy to go snow skiing and vacations in other countries or cities during the Christmas holiday. “But this year, these things will definitely not be achieved.”

For the government’s “red zone” and “orange area” alternate practice, Huohuo feels that it is not very reasonable.

“It’s better to directly close the city and wait until the New Year.” Now I hope that the vaccine can be universalized in 2021, and everyone can move freely.

There is no need to continue to wear masks,” Huo Huo said.

Judy, Munich, Germany

“In order to go home for Christmas, German friends quarantined and tested in advance”

The Christmas of the Germans is not easy.

Since mid-to-late October, Germany’s new number of confirmed cases has reached a new high, and there was no sign of easing until December.

On December 9, German Chancellor Merkel cried rarely and called on people to reduce unnecessary contact during Christmas to control the epidemic.

From December 16, Germany entered a “hard blockade” period, which will last at least until January 10 next year.

Judy (alias), who works in Munich, Germany, expressed helplessness about Christmas this year.

According to her, this year’s Christmas decoration in Munich is obviously not as much as in previous years, and traditional activities such as Christmas fairs have been cancelled early. Near Christmas, there are fewer pedestrians on the road.

Streets in Munich. /Photo provided by interviewees

Massive Christmas dinners are impossible after Germany enters a hard lockdown. Judy said that she would have visited other cities with some friends in the past Christmas.

If there was no epidemic this Christmas, she would take advantage of the holiday to return home, but it is impossible at present.” So I finally decided to order a takeaway meal with a friend, which is Christmas,” Judy said.

But Christmas is still very important for Germans.

Even under the epidemic, many Germans still hope to spend time with their families. Judy said that she had a German colleague who quarantined herself in advance in order to go home for Christmas with her family, then went to a nucleic acid test, and was ready to go home for the holiday with her parents after getting a negative certificate.

His siblings are also quarantined and tested before returning home, “may also be more worried about infecting his parents”.

At present, the epidemic situation in Germany is serious and the blockade is relatively strict, so everyone has to consider many factors when traveling. “For example, if I go out to eat with friends, I have to consider whether I can get home before curfew”, “but at this time, safety is the most important.”

Nice, France Promise

“The Christmas decorations on the street are no less than in previous years, but they are deserted and have no festive atmosphere.”

France did not announce new prevention and control measures before Christmas, and even stipulated that the curfew could be lifted on Christmas Eve on December 24.

But at other times, France continues to impose a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. But I still promise that Christmas this year is cold and has no festive atmosphere at all.

Promise is a Chinese student and currently studying in Nice. In the past few years, the promise has been spent Christmas in Europe, and it is usually spent outside with a group of friends.

Like last year, promised to go to Hungary and eat with a few friends at a restaurant in Budapest. But this year, it is estimated that only a few people can eat at home,” promised.

According to the promise, a few days before Christmas, the decoration on Nice Street and the city center was very good.

All kinds of Christmas lights and Christmas trees were very beautiful, but there were few people on the street, deserted, and completely different from the strong holiday atmosphere of previous years.” I think no matter how good the decoration is, there is a lack of flow of people, and there is also a lack of flavor.

Nice street. /Photo provided by interviewees

In addition, although people can go out during non-curfew hours, many shopping malls and other places close at 7 or 8 p.m., and Christmas fairs in many cities have also been cancelled, so there are not many entertainment outside.

“The French friends around me feel about Christmas this year. It’s boring. Most of them will still go home for Christmas, but they can’t go out and play with friends after spending their family as usual,” promised.

After a peak in early November, the epidemic in France gradually eased, and the Macron government did not announce other measures to tighten prevention and control.

However, according to French BFM TV, a growing number of local officials and medical experts in France are calling for France to restart the third round of blockade after Christmas to avoid a new wave of epidemic.

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