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Europe starts 2021 by extending lockdowns as coronavirus cases spiral

A number of European nations have kicked o...

Posted: Jan 5, 2021 9:14 AM
Updated: Jan 5, 2021 2:30 PM

A number of European nations have kicked off 2021 in familiar fashion, locking down residents and struggling to curb Covid-19 cases. The tightened restrictions come as a new variant of the virus causes alarm among governments across the continent.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a strict new national lockdown in England on Monday. The restrictions will last for at least six weeks.

'It's clear that we need to do more together to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out,' Johnson said in an address to the nation on Monday evening.

'In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the government is once again instructing you to stay at home,' he added.

Covid-19 cases in the UK hit a new daily record on Tuesday, with 60,916 new infections reported, government data shows. The UK's death toll is now more than 76,000.

Johnson reimposed measures seen during the first lockdown last spring. From midnight local time on Tuesday, people in England are allowed to leave their homes only for limited reasons like shopping for essentials, exercise and medical assistance.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said Monday that most of mainland Scotland would go into lockdown starting at midnight. Wales and Northern Ireland -- the other two nations of the UK -- were already in lockdown.

Elsewhere in Europe, Italy's government announced on Tuesday that most of the coronavirus restrictions imposed in the country during the Christmas break would be extended until January 15.

People in Italy will be allowed to visit friends only once a day, in meetings capped at a maximum of two adults.

And according to a new government decree, travel between regions will be forbidden except for health or work reasons. Restrictions have also been imposed on the hospitality industry, with bars and restaurants only permitted to provide takeaway services.

Germany's government announced Tuesday it will extend the country's national lockdown -- which had been due to end on January 10 -- until the end of the month and will tighten restrictions on movement.

'We will have to harden measures,' Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists following a meeting with Germany's 16 regional leaders in Berlin, warning that hospitals across the country were already overwhelmed, particularly intensive care units.

Under the new measures, all non-essential stores, restaurants, schools and nurseries will be required to remain shut. People will only be permitted to meet one other person outside of their own home.

'We need to restrict contact more strictly...we ask all citizens to restrict contact to the absolute minimum,' Merkel said.

And in Greece, the government has imposed a strict -- but brief -- lockdown, from January 3 until 6 a.m. on January 11.

'Covid-19 cases are still high and the pressure on the national health system continues,' Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said in a press briefing on January 2.

'We stay home for these few days, and on January 11 we return to the current situation with our schools open.'

Schools shut their doors

At the heart of many of Europe's restrictions are school closures.

The UK government was initially reluctant to shut schools, attracting heavy criticism from teachers' unions when it insisted that they would reopen as planned this week, following the Christmas holidays.

But on Monday evening, the Prime Minister announced that all primary and secondary schools would close, with students moving to remote learning instead.

Johnson also said that GCSEs and A-Levels -- the key standardized tests for 16- and 18-year-olds -- would not be able to go ahead as planned at the end of the academic year.

Italy is taking a different approach. Its high schools will reopen on January 11, with 50% of the students being taught in class and 50% being taught remotely.

Kindergarten and primary school students in Italy are to return to school as expected on January 7.

'It's useless to reopen the schools just to close them again after a few days,' Sandra Zampa, Italy's undersecretary for health, said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

In Germany, schools switched to remote learning in mid-December; a decision on whether to continue with that is due on Tuesday.

In Ireland and Spain, teachers' unions and some local leaders are calling on authorities to delay the return to school too.

Closing schools is widely viewed as a last resort in Europe and the push to close them highlights the scale of the challenge the continent faces.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516486

Reported Deaths: 10299
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison35042558
DeSoto33463432
Hinds32797643
Jackson24926392
Rankin22593405
Lee16523245
Madison14978283
Jones14191248
Forrest13852260
Lauderdale12326323
Lowndes11387193
Lamar10713140
Pearl River9759244
Lafayette8881143
Hancock7848132
Washington7561169
Oktibbeha7234138
Monroe7091179
Pontotoc7060110
Warren6892178
Panola6807135
Neshoba6753210
Marshall6735142
Bolivar6472151
Union645699
Alcorn5950108
Pike5947157
Lincoln5544136
George511080
Prentiss510185
Tippah497983
Itawamba4903107
Scott479499
Tate4786118
Adams4784125
Leflore4756144
Yazoo458492
Copiah458395
Simpson4577117
Wayne443772
Covington435395
Sunflower4331106
Marion4311112
Coahoma4259110
Leake414491
Newton396182
Tishomingo388894
Grenada3796109
Stone366466
Attala341690
Jasper341566
Chickasaw319167
Winston318892
Clay313978
Clarke301995
Calhoun288950
Holmes273389
Smith270852
Yalobusha245847
Tallahatchie232653
Greene225449
Walthall222166
Lawrence220842
Perry214656
Amite210357
Webster206748
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182757
Carroll175841
Jefferson Davis174643
Tunica163939
Benton153439
Kemper145541
Choctaw137827
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132339
Franklin126630
Quitman107928
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97334
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 848779

Reported Deaths: 16185
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1164582005
Mobile744601384
Madison53563738
Shelby38454371
Baldwin38215589
Tuscaloosa36172644
Montgomery34573782
Lee25690264
Calhoun22636520
Morgan22548411
Etowah20075520
Marshall18865318
Houston17795426
St. Clair16968359
Limestone16206220
Cullman16170306
Elmore15952295
Lauderdale15093307
Talladega14267302
DeKalb13095271
Walker12180380
Blount10791193
Autauga10562157
Jackson10221196
Coffee9440192
Colbert9376210
Dale9049192
Tallapoosa7287202
Russell711465
Chilton7098170
Covington6973197
Escambia6969144
Franklin6369108
Chambers5810142
Marion5446132
Dallas5306210
Pike5135109
Clarke486086
Lawrence4852130
Winston4804110
Geneva4656136
Bibb436495
Barbour370880
Butler3445101
Marengo342993
Monroe338566
Randolph338067
Pickens335090
Fayette332285
Henry321266
Cherokee320564
Hale319589
Crenshaw261878
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay253169
Macon246367
Conecuh193562
Coosa186048
Wilcox178538
Lowndes178468
Bullock152845
Perry141940
Sumter139841
Greene130745
Choctaw94628
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