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Calling forum members based in other European countries: what's life like for you right now?

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yorkie

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The following has prompted me to create this thread:
It would be interesting to see what restrictions Portugal have, unfortunately the article did not mention Portugal. I think if it were not for this new variant, most of England would either be in Tier 2 or 3, which would be more in line with the restrictions that other European countries have.
Perhaps @Giugiaro can answer this!

Maybe @Oscar can tell us what things are like in Switzerland?

Hopefully @duesselmartin can keep us informed on Germany?

And @jamesontheroad & @JonasB may be able to tell us what the situation is like in Sweden?
 
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Oscar

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The main restrictions currently in force in Switzerland: bars, restaurants and certain other businesses closed (until the end of February, decision to take this measure was motivated in part by the potential spread of the more contagious UK variant B 1.1.7), companies must require staff to work from home where this can be done with reasonable effort, universities must teach online where reasonable, gatherings of more than 5 people prohibited. Schools have remained open. Mass testing has been carried out in some municipalities where cases of new variants have been detected. Numbers of cases and deaths are currently falling steadily. The government was reluctant to impose harsh restrictions until late December / January, and this explains in part the higher number of deaths in the second wave than the first. Over the summer, life was largely back to normal.

There are no restrictions on travel within the country (nor have there ever been). Public transport passenger numbers are only around half to two-thirds of usual (the exact figure depending on the region/route), but a normal timetable is operating.

From 8 February, everyone who enters the country will have to fill in a form providing contact details, and passengers arriving by plane and passengers who have recently stayed in high-risk areas will be required to have a negative PCR test to enter.

Entry is currently not permitted from the UK except for people with Swiss citizenship or residence rights due to the UK variant in particular and levels of the virus in circulation in the UK. These who are allowed to enter from the UK or other high-risk areas are required to quarantine for 10 days.

The vaccine roll-out has been delayed due to the problems affecting EU supplies.
 
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jamesontheroad

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And @jamesontheroad & @JonasB may be able to tell us what the situation is like in Sweden?

@JonasB may be able to provide more detail or correct me - after all, I’m an immigrant living in the middle of nowhere in the Norrland forest, so it’s easy for me to avoid society. That was actually the plan, even before COVID...

Childcare and primary schools are open; high schools have been open but are currently teaching at distance. Universities are teaching at distance for the remainder of the academic year, although I know of one institution where students may access facilities according to a capacity controlled schedule.

Shops and public facilities are open, but with maximum capacities posted according to floor area. (In my limited experience, no one appears to be enforcing these.) Bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 20:00. Some appear to be closing for as much as thirty minutes and re-opening without alcohol service.

Trains and buses continue to roll; you are advised to wear a mask only during the morning and evening rush hours. Traffic is down dramatically, except to domestic ski resorts where it is buoyant. Borders with Denmark, Norway and Finland are closed to all but freight. Even essential travel by cross-border commuters has been scaled back, notably with Norway.

The Swedish government lacked powers to enforce a lockdown until very recently. It has been the subject of much debate whether liberties might be irreversibly lost with new legislation. The government defers to the the advice of the public health agency.

The Public Health Agency has refused to endorse the use of masks in all but essential healthcare environments. They recommend instead keeping 1,5 metres distancing. They have rejected as unsubstantiated the recent research from Asia which has demonstrated how transmission can occur over much larger distances in air conditioned or mechanically ventilated spaces. Come to Sweden today and you’ll probably be shocked to see few, if any, people wearing masks in public. However this is changing. Since Christmas, I’ve counted more and more people wearing masks in supermarkets and shops. There is a very slow moving sense that perhaps they might be a good idea after all.
 

Giugiaro

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Perhaps @Giugiaro can answer this!

Well. I'm going to be short since I'm at work atm.

Portugal is currently the worst country in the world when it comes to new cases and deaths per Million habitants. The public healthcare system is in collapse.
Some municipalities have contamination rates of over 6000 new cases per million habitants.

Portugal is, essentially, back to full confinement:
- The use of mask is mandatory at all times out of home;
- All non-essential places are closed;
- Schools, Universities and Nurseries are closed;
- Work from home is obligatory;
- For jobs that can't do work from home:
  • Essential ones resume their daily routine, with contacts reduced to the minimum possible and a minimum distancing of 2m;
  • Non essential ones get a simplified lay-off and sent home;
- Restaurants can only deliver home or do takeaway orders from the front door;
- Grocery stores can only have a maximum of 5 people per 100m2;
- The international border was closed this past weekend;
- Non essential trips are punishable by law;
- All previews fines have been doubled in value.
 

scarby

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As per the question, what life is like for me personally in Sweden:

I have still been able to generally lead a relatively normal life. Perhaps the biggest impact has been the relatively recent closure of municipal sports halls, which makes taking exercise/playing sport challenging to say the least.

Otherwise, because they are open, I am still able to go to the cafe / bar, etc. Even though bars must now stop serving alcohol at 8pm and be shut by 8.30, the only effect I have seen of this is that people simply push their time to meet forward by two hours.

Day-to-day life does not feel challenging.

I was able to travel, to France, at the start of the year, which mentally was something I felt huge benefit from.
 

Jegerpizza

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25 Dec 2014
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Turku, Finland.
As a Dane living in Finland i can give some insights to mostly Finland.

Finland has been very consistent during the whole period; we had a lockdown in March-May and since then life has been mostly normal here with cases consistently being in the 300-500 pr day range.

- Public transport runs with reduced services, mostly during the night and peaks. Much of intercity traffic both on rail and road is run commercial basis here and its mostly those that has been affected.
- Borders are closed and international travel restrictions are tight, only essential workers and goods allowed over the borders as well as Finns and permanent residents. Travel inside the country is unrestricted but its recommended not to travel to regions with higher infection rates than your home region.
- Few restrictions in place across the country and its mostly region based, with the greater Helsinki area having the most restrictions. Mask wearing, gathering limits and travel restrictions are mostly recommendations and not requirements.


I'm based in the western coastal city of Turku and life is rather normal here. All kinds of shops are open without restrictions. Bars and restaurants are open but with limited hours, they close at 22:00 here, but is different across the country. The only real routine changes Ive had since the lockdown was eased in May is that i don't go to the office as much as before. I can choose to work from home, but if needed or wanted working at the office is possible as well. You can travel or go anywhere domestically as you would before the pandemic and you dont really notice there are any restrictions in place in day to day life. The only thing you would notice is a surge in people wearing masks.
Even until January 2021 it was possible for me to travel to Denmark with no test or quarantine requirements. I was in Denmark over the xmas holiday period and the situation there is very different.

New total lockdown started on the 25th of December. Only supermarkets and pharmacies are open. Public sector jobs are working from home where possible, same thing is recommended in the private sector. It's recommended to see no more than 5 people. Routine there is very diffrent to finland, you go to work and the supermarket and thats it.
- Restaurants open only for take-out
- No alcohol purchase after 22
- No events, public gatherings
- Borders are closed with only few exceptions for essential reasons and for residents + citizens.
- Internal traffic is possible and public transport is running close to a normal schedule.
- Denmark has been hit hard with the UK b117 variant and that's the reasoning for the lockdown that's currently in force to 28th of February
 

JonasB

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27 Dec 2016
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Sweden
The following has prompted me to create this thread:

Perhaps @Giugiaro can answer this!

Maybe @Oscar can tell us what things are like in Switzerland?

Hopefully @duesselmartin can keep us informed on Germany?

And @jamesontheroad & @JonasB may be able to tell us what the situation is like in Sweden?

@JonasB may be able to provide more detail or correct me - after all, I’m an immigrant living in the middle of nowhere in the Norrland forest, so it’s easy for me to avoid society. That was actually the plan, even before COVID...

Childcare and primary schools are open; high schools have been open but are currently teaching at distance. Universities are teaching at distance for the remainder of the academic year, although I know of one institution where students may access facilities according to a capacity controlled schedule.

Shops and public facilities are open, but with maximum capacities posted according to floor area. (In my limited experience, no one appears to be enforcing these.) Bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 20:00. Some appear to be closing for as much as thirty minutes and re-opening without alcohol service.

Trains and buses continue to roll; you are advised to wear a mask only during the morning and evening rush hours. Traffic is down dramatically, except to domestic ski resorts where it is buoyant. Borders with Denmark, Norway and Finland are closed to all but freight. Even essential travel by cross-border commuters has been scaled back, notably with Norway.

The Swedish government lacked powers to enforce a lockdown until very recently. It has been the subject of much debate whether liberties might be irreversibly lost with new legislation. The government defers to the the advice of the public health agency.

The Public Health Agency has refused to endorse the use of masks in all but essential healthcare environments. They recommend instead keeping 1,5 metres distancing. They have rejected as unsubstantiated the recent research from Asia which has demonstrated how transmission can occur over much larger distances in air conditioned or mechanically ventilated spaces. Come to Sweden today and you’ll probably be shocked to see few, if any, people wearing masks in public. However this is changing. Since Christmas, I’ve counted more and more people wearing masks in supermarkets and shops. There is a very slow moving sense that perhaps they might be a good idea after all.

I live in a larger city so my situation is a bit different. Masks have been a hotly debated subject, there is now a recommendation to use them on public transport during rush hour at least I think. I haven't used public transport for almost a year so I have not kept up to date with the recommendations.

Restaurants have been hard hit by the pandemic, but many have been creative and are now selling take away. Including home delivery as well as "order online/by phone, pick up the food outside the restaurant". The healthcare system has managed so far, but barely. The Armed forces set up two field hospitals, one in Stockholm and one in Gothenburg, but they were never needed.

Something that has been a total failure is the Nordic cooperation, all countries have had their own rules and borders have been closed leading to disasters for local border areas. Areas that are pretty well integrated. Such as Haparanda/Torneå that is basically one town that happens to have an international border through it. Or the Öresund region. But some have been creative and have met at the border, which is one way to see your family when you live in different countries. E.g. https://www.nrk.no/innlandet/nar-mo...ke-og-kaffe-pa-hver-side-av-grensa-1.15006610 or https://www.svt.se/nyheter/lokalt/vast/tvillingbroderna-traffas-vid-stangda-gransen (Links are in Scandinavian but google translate works, otherwise the pictures says it all).

At least we have seen a lot of creativity from people bored at home!
 

island

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0036
I asked my mum and sisters, who live in Ireland, about this. In most respects, Ireland is stricter than the UK.
  • Maximum travel radius 5km from home with limited exemptions (e.g. you're more than 5km from the nearest food shop)
  • Garda (police) checkpoints all over the place verifying reason for travel – my mum gets stopped more than once a week on average
  • Fines for breaches of the above are multiplied by 5 if stopped en route to a port or airport
  • Non-essential retail delivery only; click & collect was banned last month
  • Pubs, restaurants, etc. all closed except delivery and takeout
  • Public drinking has been cracked down upon
  • Masks mandatory at the same places in the UK, plus outdoor parts of public transport stations; strongly recommended outdoors in places such as shopping streets and food markets where 2m distancing cannot be maintained
  • Eating and drinking is banned on public transport as people were sitting with an open bottle of water and sipping from it every 5 minutes claiming they could keep a mask off because of eating or drinking
  • Working from home mandatory other than for a closed-ended list of roles
  • Construction sites closed except for a closed-ended list of purposes such as medical facilities and housing
  • Schools were completely closed (even for key workers and disabled pupils), although reopening for the latter is in progress
  • No visiting other households
  • Until recently, those self-isolating having returned from abroad were being instructed to stay in their room and not interact with anyone
 

tom3107

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For those interested in the Spanish lifestyle at the moment, here is what its like in the Basque region in the north of the country.

  • Masks are mandatory everywhere when you're in public or a building that is open to the public regardless of distance
  • We're not allowed to leave our towns except for limited reasons e.g. work
  • Schools, sports centres, non-essential shops are all open
  • Once a town has more than 500 cases per 100k over a 2 week average, all the bars close - the town I'm in for example has around 800 and bars and restaurants have been closed for 3 weeks
  • Public transport is at 100% capacity and has been since May - rush hours are more or less crowded at the usual level
  • Can meet in groups of up to 4 people in houses, as long as they're from your town
The restrictions change depending on which region you're in because each regional government can make its own decisions within set limits. To be honest, there whole thing here has been a complete shambles (I would say more so here than in the UK) and there is a lot of fear still about the virus and of the police. I know a few people who had fairly well paying jobs who were laid off at the start and never regained their jobs, there is a kind of furlough scheme here but its not very good and some people I know ended up getting 30% of their salary. I'm a teacher and mental health, particularly amongst young people has nosedived - I'm just pleased the schools have remained open. On the face of it back in March last year the government looked good for getting the cases down so quickly, it was the strictest lockdown in Europe and in my view how people were treated was indefensible - one person being allowed out once a week to the supermarket unless you were a key worker.
 

OliverH68

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31 Oct 2019
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Croydon, UK
For those interested in the Spanish lifestyle at the moment, here is what its like in the Basque region in the north of the country.

  • Masks are mandatory everywhere when you're in public or a building that is open to the public regardless of distance
  • We're not allowed to leave our towns except for limited reasons e.g. work
  • Schools, sports centres, non-essential shops are all open
  • Once a town has more than 500 cases per 100k over a 2 week average, all the bars close - the town I'm in for example has around 800 and bars and restaurants have been closed for 3 weeks
  • Public transport is at 100% capacity and has been since May - rush hours are more or less crowded at the usual level
  • Can meet in groups of up to 4 people in houses, as long as they're from your town
The restrictions change depending on which region you're in because each regional government can make its own decisions within set limits. To be honest, there whole thing here has been a complete shambles (I would say more so here than in the UK) and there is a lot of fear still about the virus and of the police. I know a few people who had fairly well paying jobs who were laid off at the start and never regained their jobs, there is a kind of furlough scheme here but its not very good and some people I know ended up getting 30% of their salary. I'm a teacher and mental health, particularly amongst young people has nosedived - I'm just pleased the schools have remained open. On the face of it back in March last year the government looked good for getting the cases down so quickly, it was the strictest lockdown in Europe and in my view how people were treated was indefensible - one person being allowed out once a week to the supermarket unless you were a key worker.
What is it like in Gibraltar where it is under the British empire - does that follow Spanish guidelines or more closely aligned with English guidelines?
 
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