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: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
Bolivar4164110
Oktibbeha411585
Panola389881
Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
Leflore3132110
Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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