Who could have said in late 2019 that 2020 would be a year that woud put the globe up-side-down, that a global epidemic would impact the vast majority of the world so much that the life of every single human would be impacted one way or another?
For many, the main event of 2020 should have been marked by a Brexit deal and a US presidential election. Regarding the US presidential election, we hear again today that the incumbent is still refusing to concede. On the Brexit side... a deal is now more unlikely than ever, and season 6 is well underway: European folks and affiliates are still going to hear about it for a while. In the meantime, the COP26 UN climate change conference set to take place in Glasgow in November 2020 has been postponed to the end of 2021. Hopefully for good, but who knows as the world is still struggling to follow the path set five years ago n the COP-21 - Paris agreement.
Curfews, quarantines, and similar restrictions are in place in many countries, we are not going to list them all. The European Union countries have adopted a "traffic light" code based on the epidemiological situation. Most of the countries have put in place measures to restrict meeting people indoor. In Italy for example, each family can meet up to 2 other persons (children up to the age of 14 not included). In France, gatherings with more than 6 people are prohibited. In Germany, personal contacts are to remain limited to a maximum of 5 persons from 2 households (excluding children until 14 years of age)...etc. Some rules will be relaxed for Christmas day, but strict restrictions will still apply. In the US, while Donald Trump is tweeting that lockdown is bad, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging American travelers not to travel for the winter holidays.
To make things worse, a new strain of Covid has been identified in England. The new variant is said to be 70% more transmissible than existing strains, however it should not cause more severe disease nor affect coronavirus treatments and vaccines. But as a result, the UK Prime Minister has put a large part of England into lockdown (prohibiting households to mix at Christmas) and other countries have reacted in closing their borders: about 50 countries – including Turkey, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Austria, Morocco, Belgium, Ireland and Canada – have banned all flights from the UK. This new strain of COVID-19 has been spotted also in South Africa and several countries (including Germany, Switzerland and Italy) have immediately stopped all flights from/to the African country. In Middle-East, that's nearly all commercial flights that some countries have decided to suspend until January.
Children have not been spared during the year. The vast majority has discovered the concept of home-schooling and distance-learning. While the technology has helped, we cannot deny that it has been very difficult for many, especially at younger age when being physically at school is an essential part of their social development.
The good news for them is that Father Christmas (or Santa, or whatever name is known by) will still be able to come this week. It has been officially confirmed by many credible sources. Simon Coveney, who is minister for foreign affairs in Ireland, told parliament that Santa Claus will not have to worry about travel restrictions as he is considered an essential worker and will move freely in airspace this December.
Important message for children of #Ireland - #Santa is coming & will be exempt from #Covid restrictions on International Travel. However children should be aware that social distancing guidelines should apply to Santa. pic.twitter.com/AT7LTMKFFt— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) November 26, 2020
In addition Dr Anthony Faucy, the medical figure-head of the US response to Covid-19, wanted to reassure children and said on TV that he went to the North Pole and vaccinated Santa Claus himself.
Santa Claus will be coming to town this year, Dr. Anthony Fauci says.— CNN (@CNN) December 19, 2020
“I took care of that for you,” he says. “…I took a trip up there to the North Pole; I went there and I vaccinated Santa Claus myself. I measured his level of immunity, and he is good to go.” #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/CNJ520XTew
After an incredibly difficult year, no doubt that Christmas will feel different. Fortunately, we have reasons to be optimistic. Vaccines against the covid-19 are ready to be deployed (some countries have already started vaccinating) and the pandemic should be under control in 2021, hopefully by the summer, when most vulnerable people will have been vaccinated. In the meantime, we all need to remain vigilant, wear masks to refrain contamination and keep social distancing.
I would like to join our team of expats to wish you a good Christmas and we look forward to seeing you again in good health for the new year!
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