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So this is Christmas? How the virus is killing the fun

With a new strain "out of control" and more than 40 countries banning travel with , Prime Minister Boris Johnson scraps plans to relax the rules over Christmas

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The is readying for a downbeat festive season with plans in tatters and New Year celebrations without crowds or fireworks — all scuppered by new curbs.

Here is an overview of how is putting a kibosh on the festivities.

– Cancelling Christmas -With a new strain “out of control” and more than 40 countries banning travel with , Prime Minister Boris Johnson scraps plans to relax the rules over Christmas and tells people to stay home.

London and southeast England — where the new strain is worst — will remain in lockdown until December 30.

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In Italy people can only leave their homes once a day until January 6, with bars, restaurants and non-essential shops also shuttered.

The Netherlands has reimposed a lockdown until January 19 with schools and all non-essential shops closed, while Germany is under partial lockdown till January 10.

Norway has called on its population to follow a voluntary lockdown, while Sweden has done a U-turn on its lax attitude to the virus by asking people to wear masks on public transport at peak times.

has slightly eased its lockdown but has also introduced a curfew from 8:00 pm every night with a one-day reprieve on December 25.

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– Cold turkey anyone…? -Among the countries allowing gatherings over Christmas, Belgium is setting its limit to just one guest per household, and two guests for people living alone. Luxembourg is allowing two guests per household.

From December 24 to 26 in Germany, gatherings are limited to close family members.

The Netherlands is advising households to welcome no more than three guests at Christmas while France has set the maximum at six adults around the dinner table.

Quebec in Canada has scrapped its decision to allow gatherings over a four-day period during Christmas, in light of the sharp rise in new infections there.

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And Ireland declared a cold Christmas Tuesday with families urged to stay at home and only two households allowed to mix from December 27.

– No festive fun -Last-minute Christmas shopping is off in Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the southeast of England where non-essential shops have shut.

And there is no hope of warming up with some mulled wine in Germany from traditional outdoor stands, all shut this year.

Non-essential shops have reopened in France, but there will be no restaurants open for New Year celebrations, nor live .

In Switzerland, restaurants, as well as and sports facilities are all closing their doors before Christmas, while shops will stay open.

– Silent prayers -Pope Francis has brought the Vatican’s Christmas midnight mass forward by two hours due to Italy’s curfew.

Christmas mass in Bethlehem will take place without worshippers.

Singing in churches in Switzerland is banned, while in Greece churches will open for the festive period but with a capacity of nine people, and 25 in cathedrals.

Croatia has imposed travel restrictions for the holidays but eased curbs on Christmas masses.

– And then… gets worse -Scotland, Northern Ireland and Austria have all announced fresh lockdowns immediately after Christmas.

While Portugal is imposing a curfew on New Year’s Eve and Kazakhstan will ban all mass gatherings and events from December 25 and through the New Year.

A partial lockdown will come into force in Poland for three weeks starting December 28.

And schools, universities, non-essential shops, restaurants, cinemas and sports venues will all shut in Ukraine from January 8 to 24.

© Agence France-Presse

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