What will Christmas be like this year? If it is impossible to answer this question today, some countries have chosen in recent days to take the lead. Ireland, the United Kingdom and even Germany have decided to tighten the screws, sometimes until confinement, in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic to preserve the end of the year celebrations as much as possible.
In Europe, Ireland has just stepped up in the fight against Covid-19, by choosing to reconfigure its population from Wednesday October 21. This new confinement, in a lighter version than in the spring since the schools will remain open, will last six weeks. The goal is clear: to end the epidemic, relieve the health system and save the end of the year holidays. “If we unite our efforts for the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas properly”, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said Monday, October 19, when a new lockdown was announced. He admits, however, that Christmas this year “will not be the same as those we have enjoyed in recent years”, but that he will offer “a little respite”, after a trying year linked to Covid-19.
Wales has also decided to reconfine its population for two weeks to end the epidemic. Non-essential businesses will have to close, leading to a situation comparable to the confinement established across the Channel on March 23, at the time of the first wave. A strategy that finds an echo in England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes that “be tough now” to save Christmas. “The only way to ensure that the country can enjoy Christmas is to be tough now”, Boris Johnson insisted in a tabloid interview The Sun (in English). However, he wants to avoid a new national confinement, which would be devastating according to him for an economy already very weakened by the pandemic. “The key thing now is that I don’t want to go back to some sort of grand lockdown that prevents businesses from functioning,” he stressed.
On the other side of the Rhine too, the prospect of the end of year celebrations is worrying. ATwhen the epidemic is accelerating sharply in Germany, Angela Merkel solemnly asked her fellow citizens on Saturday, October 17 to reduce their social relations as much as possible, even encouraging them to stay at home. “What winter will be, what our Christmas will be, will be decided in the days and weeks to come”, judged Angela Merkel.
In Germany, confinement is not on the agenda but many measures have been taken in recent weeks, such as nightly closures of bars and restaurants, sometimes challenged in court. The question of an extension of the duration of the Christmas holidays is open. Politicians believe that such a decision could slow down the contagion within schools.
In our country, a curfew has already been in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. since Saturday, October 17 in high alert zones. New containment is not on the agenda for the moment: “He must be by all means avoided “, Jean Castex said on October 12 on franceinfo.
Yet the hypothesis of confinement before the holidays had been proposed by Nobel laureates in economics Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee. In a column published by The world on September 26, they called to take “ahead of the virus” by decreeing “containment throughout the territory for the Advent period, say from December 1 to 20 “. According to them, the “The cost to the economy would be significant, but less than having to cancel Christmas or a re-containment in much worse circumstances a fortnight later.” This scenario was quickly rejected by the Minister of Health. Olivier Véran had rather defended measures “territorialized “, as is the case today.
The Scientific Council, whose advice is regularly followed by the government, estimated on September 22 that the coming months “will be particularly critical because of the strong resumption of the virus circulation “. However, scientists were not calling for a new generalized containment, but rather to a set of measures ” moderate “,”in a logic of risk management proportionate to local situations“. A new generalized confinement in France does would, according to them, “undesirable and it would be the result of failure to control the epidemic. “