In Peru, you cannot drive your vehicle on Christmas. In Lebanon, you can go to a nightclub, but you cannot dance. In South Africa, roadblocks instead of beach parties mark this year’s festive season.
How many people can you share a Christmas meal with? France recommends no more than six, in Chile it is 15, and in Brazil it is as many as you want. Meanwhile, Italy’s mind-boggling, color-coded holiday COVID-19 rules change almost every day for the next two weeks.
Countries around the world are trying to find the right formulas to keep their people safe for Christmas, especially as new COVID-19 strains prompt renewed travel bans and fuel resurgent infections, hospitalizations and deaths at the end of an already devastating year.
Here is a look at some of the restrictions around the world for the holiday season:
It was meant to be a time when families across the UK could enjoy something like a normal Christmas despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Authorities planned to relax restrictions, allowing up to three households to mix.
The emergence of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 changed that.
The four countries of the UK — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are all in various states of shutdown and have ditched their Christmas plans. No indoor mixing of households is allowed in London and southeast England.
Instead of Christmas joy, a sense of dread and isolation is looming. Dozens of countries have limited flights from the UK, and daily new infections are running at record highs. Hospitals across the UK, which has Europe’s second-highest COVID-19-related death toll at more than 68,000, are heading toward capacity at a time of year when other illnesses abound.
In Brazil, Christmas might this year look much like normal — even though the country has been among the world’s hardest-hit by the pandemic and new COVID-19 infections are on track to match the peak of the first surge.
Many beaches and restaurants in Rio de Janeiro were packed last weekend, despite a city measure forbidding drivers to park along the shore.
No national restrictions have been imposed ahead of Christmas, although the governor of Sao Paulo ordered that only essential services such as public transport, supermarkets and pharmacies remain open around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador have also called off firework displays on New Year’s Eve.
South Africa is targeting beaches and booze as it imposes new restrictions for the Christmas season amid resurgent infections.
Alcohol could only be sold from Monday through yesterday, and a nighttime curfew is in place. Beaches — major tourist attractions this time of year — are closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The South African government is urging people to avoid crowded Christmas celebrations, but indoor gatherings of up to 100 people are still allowed; outdoors up to 250 people can congregate.
Police are setting up roadblocks to slow a second surge of infections that authorities and scientists say is being fueled by another strain of COVID-19, one distinct from the variant affecting England.
Some countries are banning flights from South Africa, where the weekly infections and deaths have doubled over the past two weeks.
Unlike much of the world, Lebanon eased restrictions during the Christmas holidays, hoping to inject foreign currency into a tanking economy.
Tens of thousands of Lebanese expatriates have arrived home for the holidays, leading to fears of an inevitable surge in COVID-19 cases.
Last week, the Lebanese Ministry Of Interior and Municipalities allowed nightclubs to reopen — but said that dancing would be prohibited. That triggered a debate on social media about what constitutes dancing.
Lebanon’s health sector has been challenged by the pandemic that struck amid an unprecedented financial crisis. The massive Aug. 4 explosion in the Port of Beirut only increased pressure on the city’s hospitals, knocking out at least three of them.
Newspapers in Italy are running color-coded graphics that resemble children’s board games to help people keep track of the rules aimed at limiting new COVID-19 infections over the holidays. Travel between regions is banned for 16 days, and a curfew begins at 10pm.
From yesterday until Sunday, “red” rules kick in, closing all shops except food stores, pharmacies and hairdressers — since looking one’s best is essential in Italy. Two people can visit the home of another family member and take children younger than 14 with them. Restaurants and cafes cannot serve customers, although takeout and home delivery are allowed.
From Monday next week until Wednesday next week, Italians segue into “orange” rules, when nonessential shops can re-open, although dining out is still banned. Things turn red again for New Year’s Eve until Jan. 3, orange for Jan. 4, and then red again until Jan. 6 for the national holiday on Epiphany.
South Korea is clamping down on private social gatherings of five or more people and closing tourist spots from yesterday through at least Jan. 3.
National parks and coastal tourist sites, where thousands usually travel to watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day, remain closed, as well as churches, and skiing, sledding and skating venues.
Restaurants could face fines of up to 3 million won (US$2,721) if they serve groups of five or more.
The greater Seoul area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, has in past weeks been at the center of a resurgence of COVID-19 that has overwhelmed hospitals, increased death tolls and raised questions as to how the South Korean government is handling the outbreak, after winning global praise for its response earlier in the year.
Forty-eight COVID-19 patients have died in the deadliest two days since the pandemic began.
The US has issued no nationwide restrictions on travel, a decision left to state governments, but a federal agency is advising against crisscrossing the country for the Christmas season.
Still, millions of people have in the past few days passed through airport security.
The American Automobile Association predicted that nearly 85 million Americans would be journeying during the holidays — a 29 percent decline from last year.
The US has reported by far the most COVID-19 infections and deaths in the world, more than 18 million cases and 326,217 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Even before Christmas, new cases have been rising over the past two weeks.
If social media interaction is any yardstick, India remained one of the top countries for Taiwan last year. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has on several occasions expressed enthusiasm to strengthen cooperation with India, one of the 18 target nations in her administration’s New Southbound Policy. The past year was instrumental in fostering Taiwan-India ties and will be remembered for accelerated momentum in bilateral relations. However, most of it has been confined to civil society circles. Even though Taiwan launched its southbound policy in 2016, the potential of Taiwan-India engagement remains underutilized. It is crucial to identify what is obstructing greater momentum
In terms of the economic outlook for the semiconductor industry, Taiwan has outperformed the rest of the world for three consecutive years. This is quite rare. In addition, Taiwan has been playing an important role in the US-China technology dispute, and both want Taiwan on their side, reflecting the remaking of the nation’s semiconductor industry. Under the leadership of — above all — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the industry as a whole has shifted from a focus on capacity to a focus on quality, as companies now have to be able to provide integration of hardware and software, as well as
US President Joe Biden’s foreign policy on China and the Indo-Pacific region will have huge repercussions for Taiwan. The US Department of State in the final weeks of former US president Donald Trump’s term took several actions clearly aimed to push Biden’s foreign policy to build on Trump’s achievements. Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s announcement on the final day of the Trump administration that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang was welcome, but comes far too late. The recent dropping of “self-imposed” restrictions on meetings between Taiwanese and US officials was
In memory of Diane Baker: one of the last working dance journalists, a true dance aficionado and dear friend. On Friday, through a mutual friend, I received the shocking news that dance critic Diane Baker had passed away suddenly at her apartment in Tianmu, Taipei. The news quickly spread, and messages of concern quickly swarmed in from the dance community in Taiwan and abroad. Her sister Sharon in the US later confirmed that Diane died of a heart attack on Wednesday last week. She was 65. Diane was a dear friend to Taiwan’s dance community. Her frequent appearance at dance performances in