As Americans in various parts of the country find themselves facing the possibility of yet another quarantine period this winter, many people in other countries are already in the midst of their second lockdown.
Ireland Was the First European Country to Lockdown Again
Ireland didn’t wait for things to get worse. On October 21, the country introduced its highest level of national restrictions to date as part of a round two lockdown scheduled to last six weeks. However, thanks to accessible testing and lessons learned from the March lockdown, certain restrictions aren’t quite as severe this time around.
Unlike in the spring, this fall’s lockdown in Ireland allowed schools to remain open. Construction also continued throughout the duration of the lockdown, but all other activities and non-essential businesses remained off-limits.
It wasn’t until early December that Ireland reduced its restrictions from Level 5 to Level 3. Now gatherings of 15 or more people can take place outside, and gyms, restaurants, hotels, and tennis courts have reopened. The exception is pubs that don’t serve food, which still remain closed except for delivery and pickup services.
Even as restrictions lessen, Ireland’s guard is still up. Residents are strongly encouraged to remain home, always wear a face covering in public, and avoid mixing with other households.
Germany Followed Ireland’s Example
Soon after Ireland announced its lockdown, Germany followed suit. As of the beginning of November, all restaurants, bars, gyms, and theaters in Europe’s economy were forced to close. Hotels were no longer allowed to welcome tourists, and residents are reminded not to mix with other households.
Germany, like so many other countries, had hoped that limited targeted measures could prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases over the winter, but steadily rising numbers indicate that only a full lockdown can slow the spread of this pandemic. In fact, in early November, Europe had surpassed the U.S in cases per capita.
“Europe is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again,” WHO’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said at the end of October.
Italy Splits the Country Into Sectors
In early November, the Italian government took action to slow a second wave of COVID cases by splitting the country into color-coded regions. Red regions are most restrictive, followed by orange and then yellow.
Milan, the financial capital and tourist mecca, is deep inside the red zone, for example. This means residents of Milan and surrounding areas cannot cross their new “borders” without permission.
The impacts of this new lockdown is easy to see: museums are closed, Restaurants and bars must close at 6 p.m., and vehicle traffic is next-to-nothing after dark.
Only time will tell how effective these lockdowns are, or how the countries plan to address the usually busy holiday season.