While many countries continue to limit the number of people allowed to gather in public spaces this holiday season amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some have announced outright bans on Christmas parties.
Below are ten nations where celebrating Christmas through a traditional gathering on December 25 is prohibited to prevent the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.
The Christmas Eve mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area. Health authorities have canceled the public mass this year out of fears it could increase transmission of coronavirus.
“The mass will be closed to the public this year and broadcast online, with only clergy and select individuals allowed inside the basilica, which was sterilized earlier Thursday [December 24] ahead of the service,” Agence France-Presse reported.
Germany has banned Christmas parties, caroling, outdoor drinking, and even closed its iconic glühwein Christmas stalls this holiday season. Private gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people from two households during the holidays. An additional four close family members are allowed to join private gatherings on Christmas day.
South Korea has prohibited private social gatherings of five or more people from Christmas Eve through January 3.
All four nations of the U.K. – England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – are in various stages of lockdown during the Christmas holiday.
In Southeast England and London, the indoor mixing of households is prohibited on Christmas.
“In Wales (two households) and Scotland (three households up to a maximum of eight people), Christmas bubbles will also only be allowed on 25 December. In both countries, people are being advised not to form a Christmas bubble, even though they are permitted,” the BBC reported.
Residents of Scotland are banned from traveling to and from other parts of the U.K. throughout the holiday season.
“Northern Ireland has also cut its Christmas bubble window to a choice of one day between 23 and 27 December. It is being flexible to make allowances for people who are working on Christmas Day,” according to the BBC.
“Two people can visit the home of another family member and bring children younger than 14 with them” on Christmas day in Italy, the Associated Press reported. From December 24-17, “travel between regions is banned for 16 days, and a curfew begins at 10 p.m.”
Denmark is currently under a partial coronavirus lockdown. Danish health authorities on December 7 advised citizens to “limit private gatherings to 10 people” during the holidays. The national recommendation “will remain in place over Christmas and New Year,” according to theLocal.dk.
A recent coronavirus cluster outbreak in northern Sydney prompted the local government to issue lockdown orders and restrict travel to and from the city over the weekend. The short notice stranded many people en route to family Christmas gatherings in the greater Sydney area. Only limited Christmas family gatherings are allowed under the new lockdown.
Public and private office Christmas parties, along with caroling, are banned in Metro Manila this holiday season, the Philippine Inquirer reported on December 1.
Metro Manila Council leader Edwin Olivarez said on November 29 that he and other regional mayors agreed on the ban during a meeting the day before.
“The mayors, he said, decided to recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to keep Metro Manila under general community quarantine up to the end of the year to prevent a rise in new coronavirus infections during the Christmas season,” according to the newspaper.
“We talked about the suspension of caroling. Caroling will not be allowed, as well as Christmas parties,” Olivarez said in a radio interview, adding that the ban on Christmas parties would be “for both public and private offices.”
“Attendance in public gatherings will remain limited to 10 people,” he said.
Metro Manila, the Philippines’ National Capital Region (NCR), is home to nearly 13 million people. It is the Philippines’ most densely populated region and the fifth most populous urban area in the world. Manila is located on the Philippines’ northern island of Luzon.
Other regions have joined the capital in banning office Christmas parties this season. Northern Samar province on the eastern island of Samar announced on December 8 that “[a]ll government offices and agencies … are prohibited to hold Christmas parties and similar activities amid the threat of coronavirus disease 2019.”
Metro Manila’s plans to limit Christmas gatherings this holiday season were announced in October.
Zimbabwe’s government on December 17 warned that police would “enforce” a nationwide ban on Christmas parties.
“We are not yet out of the Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] woes but the country is in the second wave of the virus. Parties will not be permissible during the festive season,” Zimbabwe Home Affairs Minister Kazembe Kazembe said at a press conference to launch Zimbabwe’s “2020 Festive Season Awareness Campaign.”
“However, weddings will be allowed but still with limited numbers. Police will be out in full force to enforce Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] regulations and to make sure that they are being followed,” the interior minister added, according to New Zimbabwe.
South Africa announced on December 14 that tighter coronavirus lockdown measures would limit the number of people allowed to gather at Christmas and other holiday-related parties.
“Under the new restrictions, gatherings – including religious gatherings – may not be attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events,” the South African Government News Agency said in a statement. “The total number of people in a venue may not exceed more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue.”
“If we do not do things differently this festive season, we will greet the new year not with joy, but with sorrow. Many of our friends, relatives and co-workers will be infected, some will get severely ill and some, tragically, will die,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said when announcing the new restrictions.
“Unless we do things differently, this will be the last Christmas for many, many South Africans,” he warned.