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The World Struggles with Restrictions Affecting Holidays

A directional sign at a COVID-19 testing site is seen near a growing line of test seekers in the northern Italian town of Bozen on Friday, November 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A directional sign at a COVID-19 testing site is seen near a growing line of test seekers in the northern Italian town of Bozen on Friday, November 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
The World Struggles with Restrictions Affecting Holidays
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Many countries around the world have put in place stronger measures meant to control the spread of the new coronavirus. But these new restrictions are causing tensions because they affect holiday observances and traditions.

In some places, celebrations of Christmas and other upcoming holidays are being limited or even canceled.

Health officials in the United States worked hard to urge people to stay home over Thanksgiving, held on November 26. But many Americans chose to travel and gather anyway.

On Twitter, Dr. Tatiana Prowell of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine blamed the way the American people think. She wrote: “The U.S. ‘each person for himself’ mindset is killing hundreds of thousands of us.”

In recent weeks, three drugmakers have announced promising results for effective vaccines against the new coronavirus. But an approved vaccine is unlikely to be widely available to the public for months.

Scientists are reminding the public of the continued need for measures meant to limit the spread of the virus. And politicians in many countries are considering additional restrictions for Christmas as a second wave of the virus spreads.

European countries consider holiday restrictions

On Wednesday, Germany reported a record 410 COVID-19 deaths within 24 hours. Chancellor Angela Merkel and 16 federal state leaders planned to discuss an extension of restrictions into December and for Christmas and the New Year.

Italy reported 853 deaths related to COVID-19 on Tuesday.

In France, new infections and the number of people in hospitals with the virus dropped, as a national lockdown went into its fourth week.

French President Emmanuel Macron says France will start easing its COVID-19 restrictions within days. Stores, theaters and movie theaters could reopen by Christmas. The hope is that people can spend the holidays with their families.

Macron said Tuesday that people could start being vaccinated by the end of the year. “We will very likely…start vaccination of the most vulnerable populations…as soon as the end of December, early January,” he said in a televised speech.

Air France-KLM is one of several airlines preparing to transport millions of doses of temperature-sensitive vaccines.

Parts of Britain agreed to temporarily ease restrictions for the Christmas holiday and permit up to three households to meet at home.

But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned against easing restrictions too quickly.

“We must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes,” she told the European Parliament. “Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas.”

I’m Mario Ritter Jr.

Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this Reuters story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

lockdown –n. preventing people from going out in an effort to prevent the spread of disease; to keep prisoners in their cells because of an incident

vulnerable –adj. likely to be harmed, able to be hurt easily

dose –n. the amount of a medicine needed to fight disease

relax –v. to make or become less severe, strict or disciplined

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