France, Britain Ease Lockdowns As Second Virus Wave Subsides
Paris, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Nov, 2020 ) :Britain and France on Tuesday announced their intention to ease coronavirus restrictions in the run-up to Christmas, as a second wave of infections subsides following weeks of lockdowns in Europe.
"We will be able to travel without authorisation, including between regions, and spend Christmas with our families," Macron said, while warning that some restrictions would stay in place to avoid a third wave.
The British authorities also announced on Tuesday that restrictions on social mixing and travel would be eased across the UK over Christmas, with up to three families allowed to mix over the festive period.
Germany's 16 states have also agreed to slightly loosen limits on social contact over Christmas, according to a draft deal seen by AFP.
State leaders agreed to cap gatherings to 10 people over the December 23 to January 1 holiday -- double the limit for the rest of December. These compromise measures reflected calls by some less-affected regions for lighter restrictions.
- Care homes first in line - Hopes for an end to the pandemic also received a further boost on Tuesday when the Russian developers of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine said it had proved 95 percent effective in a second interim analysis of clinical trial data.
They said it can be stored at between two and eight degrees Celsius (between 35.6 and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit), instead of the temperatures below freezing required for some other vaccines.
They did not specify the number of cases used to make the calculation, however.
Western experts have in the past expressed concern over Russia's vaccine, fearing that its development could have been rushed.
There are now several possible vaccines internationally that have undergone or are undergoing clinical trials, some already seeking US and EU approval for emergency use -- Candidates by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca/Oxford University are leading the pack.
Optimism sparked by the vaccines have given a boost to virus-weary citizens across the globe in recent days, as well as pushing up stock markets.
The Dow surged past 30,000 points for the first time ever Tuesday as receding US political uncertainty and hopes for virus vaccines offset worries over spiking Covid-19 cases.
"Every member state will receive it at the same time on a pro rata basis," European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.
Even once a vaccine becomes available, any return to normality for a global economy ravaged by the pandemic seems a long way off.
The boss of Australia's Qantas airline, Alan Joyce, on Tuesday said proof of vaccination would likely become the only way people will be allowed to fly.
Aviation's global industry body IATA said Tuesday it estimated that airline revenue this year would plunge 60 percent.
- Easing rules for Christmas - Although governments in Europe and North America are keen to preserve end-of-year festive cheer, experts are worried about the contagion risk from the upcoming holidays.
Stopping short of issuing an outright ban, the US government's health protection agency has for the first time called on Americans not to travel for the annual holiday, which sees families get together over turkey, yams and cranberry sauce.