The new measures decided on Monday, will enter into force after Christmas on 26 December and until at least 10 January. Photo: SIP/Jean-Christophe Verhaegen
Luxembourg will enter a stricter lockdown on 26 December, prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) and health minister Paulette Lenert (LSAP) announced during a press conference on Monday.
All non-essentials shops--including hair salons, tattoo studios and the like--will have to close their doors from 26 December and essential shops, such as supermarkets, won't be able to sell non-essential goods. However, delivery and click&collect options will still be possible.
Additionally, the consumption of alcoholic beverages will no longer be allowed in public spaces and the 11pm tp 6am curfew that is currently in place will be extended by two hours, meaning it will already start at 9pm.
“It is important, in the fight against the virus, that tracing works as efficiently as possible, which, in the light of the high number of daily new infections, is not the case,” Bettel said, adding that if there were half as many new daily infections, tracing would be able to work much more efficiently.
Last week, the average number of new cases per day was at 438, the lowest it has been in over two months, Bettel said. But the number remained too high to take pressure off the healthcare sector, the prime minister said. The new measures, once approved by parliament, will be in place until 10 January.
Remote working, learning
Bettel urged companies to use remote working where possible, as this helps reduce social contacts.
Schools will remain closed after the Christmas holidays end on 4 January and students will return to distanced learning for at least a week. Education minister Claude Meisch (DP) is hosting a press conference on Tuesday morning with additional details.
Organised sports activities will be suspended and outdoor sports infrastructure that was until now allowed to remain open will also have to close.
Moreover, fines for non-adherence to these rules will double, from €145 to €300.
"No hard lockdown"
To help businesses the winter sales will be extended, Bettel said, and the House of Entrepreneurship is setting up a special hotline for businesses requiring support. Parliament last week extended a series of aid measures for companies into the new year as a result of the second wave of the pandemic.
The deadline for filing the 2019 tax returns will also be extended by three months until 31 March 2021, while the deadline for the 2020 tax returns will be extended to 30 June 2021.
Despite the new measures, Bettel insisted that Luxembourg would not move into a hard lockdown because of these rules. “A hard lockdown would imply that people are no longer allowed to leave their houses,” which won’t be the case in the grand duchy, he said.
Vaccinations in the coming days
The European Medicines Agency on Monday approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in the EU and Bettel said the first jabs should be administered at the vaccination centre in Victor Hugo hall on 28 and 29 December to healthcare staff.
Staff from care homes is supposed to follow shortly after on 30 December.
The Moderna vaccine is set to be apprived in January, and Bettel said it would be difficult, at the present time, to plan beyond the end of the year as it was not yet clear which vaccines, how many and in what timeframe the grand duchy will receive.