The European Commission is recommending all its member states to introduce a curfew and consider extending the Christmas holidays for children.
"The situation may be stabilising, but it remains delicate," said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, when introducing a series of recommendations to ensure a coordinated approach in the fight against the pandemic.
“The successful approach of avoiding the three C's: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings should be reinforced,” the Commission writes.
One of these recommendations was the introduction of a curfew, as has been in force in Belgium since 19 October. Flanders has a curfew in place from midnight to 5:00 AM, and Brussels and Wallonia both have a curfew in place from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
The EU also recommends extending the school holidays or introduce a period of online learning as a "buffer period," to reduce transmission risks in the period following the festive season.
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Additionally, to prevent the end-of-year festivities from giving the coronavirus another chance to start circulating more, people should visit each other as little as possible, according to the EU.
At the annual dialogue with religious leaders last Friday, the European Commission and representatives of the three monotheistic religions agreed that health progress should not be jeopardized during the holiday period.
If a Member State wants to allow more guests during the holidays, it is recommended that they quarantine for before and after the gatherings, for at least seven days.
Introducing "household bubbles," so that people only come into contact with the same others, and cannot spread the virus more widely, is also recommended.
As it will take some time before Europeans can be vaccinated in large numbers, the EU must not relax measures and drop its defences again too quickly, as it did over the summer.
Additionally, a good testing and tracing strategy for people who have been in contact with an infected person and may be infected themselves remains crucial for the time being, the Commission noted.
"Like everything else this year, the end-of-year festivities will be different," Kyriakides added. "We cannot jeopardise the efforts made by us all in recent weeks and months. This year, saving lives must come before celebrations."
The Brussels Times