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Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italian Government left without Parliamentary Majority as Matteo Renzi Pulls his Party from Ruling Coalition
Matteo Renzi
Matteo Renzi Credit: Università Ca' Foscari Venezia

The Giuseppe Conte-led administration is teetering on the brink of collapse after the former prime minister, Matteo Renzi, pulled his small Italia Viva party from the ruling coalition. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could now either offer his resignation to the president, Sergio Mattarella, who could give him a mandate to try to forge a new alliance, or go to parliament for a vote of confidence. Other possible outcomes include Mattarella putting together a broad-based government of national unity or, failing that, calling elections.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Berlin to implement a 15-kilometre travel restriction for residents
Berlin to implement a 15-kilometre travel restriction for residents
Credit: onnola (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

In a special session on Tuesday, Berlin's government, the state Senate, set to join other parts of the country in implementing a 15-kilometre "Corona-Ring" beyond city limits, with residents restricted to travel within it.

The Senate also decided that the rule would stay in place until the incidence rate keeps below 200 for seven consecutive days.

"The goal of everything we're doing is to reduce travel and contact," Finance Senator Matthias Kollatz told reporters after the session. "The 15-kilometre rule, when the rate hits 200, aims to achieve a further reduction."

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
UK bans travellers from South America
UK bans travellers from South America
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The UK has banned people who are from or have travelled through Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela in the last 10 days. The ban will come into force from Friday and is due to a new variant identified in Brazil. British, Irish and foreign nations may enter the country but must isolate for 10 days.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
UK coronavirus deaths pass 100,000
UK coronavirus deaths pass 100,000
Credit: unsplash.com / iMattSmart

1,564 deaths were recorded across the United Kingdom on Wednesday 13th January - a record high bringing the total to 101,160.

Regional News • Europe
EU customs seize British ham sandwiches
EU customs seize British ham sandwiches
Credit: Screenshot site: eenvandaag.avrotros.nl

The ham sandwiches of British truck drivers are also affected by the new Brexit trade rules. The BBC on Tuesday showed Dutch TV footage of customs also checking drivers' provisions. Customs officials in Hoek van Holland explain to the drivers in the report of the channel NPO1 that they are no longer allowed to export animal food from the UK.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany: Bavaria introduces mandatory FFP2 masks in public transport and supermarkets
FFP2 Mask
FFP2 Mask Credit: Christoph Janke for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

In Bavaria, from next Monday onwards, there will be an obligation to wear FFP2 masks in public transport and in retail. This was decided by the cabinet on Tuesday in Munich, as Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) said.

Söder said the "normal community masks" are in the Corona pandemic to protect others. FFP2 masks also protect the wearer himself. The goal, he said, is to improve safety in public transportation and commerce.

"Availability in trade is sufficiently guaranteed, so there is no shortage of FFP2," the prime minister stressed.

Regional News • Europe • France
Champs-Élysées in Paris will be turned into "extraordinary garden"
Champs-Élysées in Paris will be turned into "extraordinary garden"
Credit: Courtesy of PCA-Stream

According to Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, the famous Champs-Élysées will undergo a transformation "an extraordinary garden". The plan for the 1.9 kilometers long area in central Paris had been unveiled in 2019 and has now gotten the green light. The costs are estimated to be around €250 million and include cutting space for vehicles by half, adding more space for pedestrians and planting trees and other greens.

Regional News • Europe
European power grid experienced a disruption on Friday
European power grid experienced a disruption on Friday
Credit: unsplash.com / Matthew Henry

Outage in Romania led to underfrequency in Europe. According to Austrian Power Grid, normal operation was restored after one hour.

According to Austrian Power Grid (APG), a disturbance occurred in the synchronized European high-voltage power grid Friday afternoon, which led to an under frequency in Europe with a short-term frequency deviation of about 260 mHz. The detailed analysis is still in progress.

Thanks to the protection mechanisms established throughout Europe and the immediate and coordinated cooperation of the transmission system operators, normal operation for the whole of Europe was restored within an hour. APG controls the supra-regional power transmission grid in Austria.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Credit: Courtesy of Instagram

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip have received their first dose of vaccine against the new coronavirus, Buckingham Palace announced. A second source told the British news agency PA that the Queen and her husband had been vaccinated by the royal family's doctor at Windsor Castle, where they spend the confinement period. Usually quite discreet about her state of health, "the Queen has decided to make this information public to avoid inaccuracies and possible rumours," added PA.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
UK Covid-19 variant detected for the first time in Berlin

According to a study by In Berlin, the new variant of the coronavirus from Great Britain has been detected for the first time. This was announced by the Senate Health Administration on Friday. The affected person and other ill contact persons his recovered in the meantime. Possible further contact persons are still being searched for. from German A few days ago, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) said that the new virus variant was not very widespread in Germany so far. At least according to current knowledge, it looks like the measures taken have prevented the new form from spreading, Spahn said in Berlin on Wednesday.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
EU Commission orders up to 300 million more vaccine doses from BioNtech
Credit: Ashles Winkler for Pendect

The EU Commission has concluded a contract for up to 300 million more doses of the Corona vaccine from the Mainz-based company BioNtech and its US partner Pfizer. 75 million doses of this should be available as early as the second quarter of 2021, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels on Friday.

Back in November, the EU Commission ordered up to 300 million doses of vaccine from BioNtech/Pfizer for all 27 states - a firm order for 200 million doses and an option for 100 million more, which was recently pulled.

In Germany, BioNtech is currently working on a new production site in Marburg. If this goes into operation in February as planned, the company will be able to massively expand vaccine production.

Regional News • Europe
European Medicines Agency recommends authorization of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
European Medicines Agency recommends authorization of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

On Wednesday, the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety announced on Twitter that they are "expected to follow the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommendation and grant the authorization shortly after which the roll-out of the vaccine in the EU can begin."

Emer Cooke, EMA executive director, said on Wednesday that "this vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency." and "It is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all involved that we have this second positive vaccine recommendation just short of a year since the pandemic was declared by WHO," she said.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany extends Covid-19 lockdown until January 31
Germany extends Covid-19 lockdown until January 31
Credit: Bundesregierung (Public Domain)

Germany's federal and state governments have agreed to extend the existing Covid-19 measures until January 31. Also, further measures will be taken, in particular, contact restrictions are to be greatly strengthened, and private contacts are to be reduced to one person outside the household.

Additionally, travel without a valid reason will be restricted to no more than 15 kilometres in hotspot-areas and day trips will be prohibited.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
UK to roll out Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine starting Monday

The UK is set to start administering the new Covid-19 vaccine from Oxford University and the AstraZeneca group on Monday, stating that the "NHS will be the first health service in the world to provide this life-saving vaccine."

The vaccine will initially be delivered in a small number of hospitals, but will be widely distributed to hundreds of vaccination centers later this week.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
United Kingdom abolishes "tampon tax" after leaving EU
United Kingdom abolishes "tampon tax" after leaving EU
Credit: unsplash.com / Josefin

With the end of the post-Brexit transition period, the UK is no longer obliged to levy a minimum tax of five percent on hygiene products, as required by EU law. With that the country has now abolished the VAT on tampons and sanitary towels in the United Kingdom.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

BioNTech is working flat out with partner Pfizer to boost production of their Covid-19 vaccine, its founders said, warning there would be gaps in supply until other vaccines were rolled out. The German biotech start-up has led the vaccine race but its shot has been slow to arrive in the EU due to relatively slow approval from the bloc’s health regulator and the small size of the order placed by Brussels.

The delays have caused consternation in Germany, where some regions had to temporarily close vaccination centres days after the launch of an inoculation drive on December 27th.

Regional News • Europe
Bosnia: Homeless refugees forced to return to burnt-down camp

920 migrants at the Bosnian-Croatian border had to spend nights in a burned and unheated refugee camp. A total of 2,000 refugees have been holding out for days without shelter on the border with Croatia because the authorities cannot find room for them in existing refugee camps. A fire destroyed the Lipa camp, which was intended as a transitional camp, shortly before Christmas.

Hours earlier, after a dispute with the authorities, the International Organization for Migration had decided to have the camp evacuated because it was not winterized anyway. The organization could no longer guarantee the safety of the refugees. Many of the migrants in Lipa have already made numerous attempts to cross the border. The IOM head of mission speaks of a "desperate" situation. The condition of the refugees is rapidly deteriorating, he says. Overnight, he fears further frostbite and respiratory diseases.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Britain extends Covid-19 restrictions onto England
Britain extends  Covid-19 restrictions onto England
Credit: unsplash.com / John Cameron

In Great Britain, the highest Corona warning level has been applied to further parts of the country. It has been extended beyond London and the southeast of England to large parts of the center, the north and the southwest of England, according to the British Health Minister Matt Hancock.

As a result, three-quarters of England's population is now subject to the most severe restrictions under the country's Corona regulations: It is forbidden for members of more than one household to gather together. Non-essential businesses will be closed, and restaurants and bars can only offer a pick-up service.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany reports 56 percent less air traffic due to Covid-19 pandemic
Germany reports 56 percent less air traffic due to Covid-19 pandemic
Credit: unsplash.com / William Hook

There was little activity in the skies over Germany in the Corona year 2020: Up to and including 27 December, the German Air Navigation Services (DFS) monitored just under 1.47 million aircraft movements. This was 56 percent less than the 3.33 million flights recorded in the same period last year.

In the Christmas week, aircraft movements including overflights were only 38.4 per cent of the previous year's figure.

International air traffic had plummeted dramatically in March after more and more countries closed their borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The last time controllers recorded fewer commercial and military flights was in 1989, then for West German airspace alone. The previous record year is 2018, with 3.35 million movements.

Regional News • Europe • France
Brexit: France announces rules visa requirements for British citizens from January 2021
Brexit: France announces rules visa requirements for British citizens from January 2021
Credit: unsplash.com/Ethan Wilkinson

The French government published detailed rules for visa requirements for British citizens who want to spend lengthy periods in France after January 1st, 2021.

From January on "UK citizens will need a Long Stay visa if staying in France or in a French Oversea territory for more than 90 days whatever the purpose of stay". UK citizens with a second home in France, who are spending between 3-6 months a year in France, are "not considered as a resident in France and cannot apply for a carte de séjour under the withdrawal agreement" and "will have to apply for a temporary visitor visa - visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur."

Regional News • Europe • France
100,000 police deployed to enforce curfew on New Year's Eve
100,000 police deployed to enforce curfew on New Year's Eve
Credit: unsplash/ev

France is mobilising 100,000 police and gendarmes on New Year's Eve to enforce a coronavirus curfew and gathering rules as well as preventing vandalism. "The priority in the next few days must be to fight against unauthorised public gatherings and the phenomenon of urban violence," Interior minister Gérald Darmanin announced on Tuesday.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German Funke news group hit by large scale cyberattack
German Funke news group hit by large scale cyberattack
Credit: By Wiki05 - Own work / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

One of the biggest media organizations in German-speaking territories has become the victim of a sustained cyberattack over the Christmas holiday, forcing several newspapers to cancel or offer severely curtailed "emergency" editions. The attack, which is still ongoing, began last Tuesday.

Regional News • Europe • Russia
Russian authority issues ultimatum for return into the country to Nawalny
Russian authority issues ultimatum for return into the country to Nawalny
Credit: Evgeny Feldman / Novaya Gazeta (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

The Russian prison service has ordered Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to report in person to the authority's office. Should he return to Russia after the deadline, he said, he would face imprisonment. The FSIN prison authority announced this on Monday.

Navalny was released from the hospital on Sept. 20 and has been symptom-free since Oct. 12, the statement said, citing a report in The Lancet journal. Therefore, Navalny had to report to the scene, according to the parole conditions of a prison sentence to which Navalny was sentenced in 2014.

Regional News • Europe
European Union starts vaccinating campaign
European Union starts vaccinating campaign
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The mass vaccination campaign of the European Union has started vaccinating against Covid-19 with the goal to give around 450 million people a vaccine against the virus to end the pandemic.

In total, the European Commission has secured over 2 billion doses of different Covid-19 vaccines.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
England supermarkets to be barred from displaying unhealthy foods and drinks at checkout
England supermarkets to be barred from displaying unhealthy foods and drinks at checkout
Credit: unsplash.com/Franki Chamaki

As part of a proposed government measure to tackle obesity, England's supermarkets could be barred from displaying unhealthy foods and drinks at checkouts or use them in "buy one, get one free"-offers, starting in April 2022.

"Finally, Downing Street is acting decisively with a bold first step to restrict the sale of junk food on multi-buy offers and at checkouts, and taking on one of the biggest threats to Britain’s future health – childhood obesity," so Action on Sugar chairman Professor Graham MacGregor.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Hundreds of British tourists disappeared from Swiss quarantine
Hundreds of British tourists disappeared from Swiss quarantine
Credit: unsplash.com / Catharina Short Sundberg

Hundreds of British tourists have disappeared during the night from the Swiss ski resort Verbier despite being in mandatory quarantine because of the new Covid-19 variant.

Authorities had identified 420 guests from Britain who had been quarantined before Christmas, he said. About 50 left immediately, he said, and of the 370 others, less than a dozen were still there on Sunday.

Some have since reported back from France, Jean-Marc Sandoz, spokesman for the municipality of Bagnes, to which Verbier belongs, said today.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
First ski resorts in Austria closed due to overcrowding
First ski resorts in Austria closed due to overcrowding
Credit: unsplash.com / Joel Tasche

Although Austria is once again in lockdown, many ski lifts were allowed to open. After a rather quiet start on Christmas Eve and the first holiday, it became more crowded in the ski resorts from the second holiday onwards - too crowded in times of the Covid-19 pandemic, where keeping your distance is the order of the day.

On Sunday, so many people made their way towards the slopes that even some ski resorts pulled the emergency brake and closed down. Already in the morning, the ski resorts at Hauser Kaibling as well as St. Jakob im Walde in Styria closed due to overcrowding, further guests were not allowed to arrive.

Regional News • Europe • Austria
Austria goes into its third hard lockdown
Austria goes into its third hard lockdown
Credit: unsplash.com / Ashley Winkler

The Austrian government has imposed the nation's third lockdown, starting on Saturday 26, after giving people looser rules over the Christmas holidays. From Saturday on, all non-essential business and in-person education will remain closed until at least January 18 and people will not be allowed to leave their homes except for "necessary basic needs of life", exercise, work and health reasons.

Regional News • Europe • France
France: Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine approved by medical regulator
France: Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine approved by medical regulator
Credit: unsplash.com/CDC

The French medical regulator has approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Thursday.

"The vaccine can be used for people aged 16 and over, including elderly", said the Haute Autorité de la Santé (HAS).

Regional News • Europe • France
Fast-track citizenship for migrant frontline workers in France

The French government has fast-tracked hundreds of citizenship applications from migrant frontline workers. Over 700 healthcare professionals, cleaners and shop workers have already been granted citizenship or will receive it soon.

The office of Marlene Schiappa, junior minister for citizenship: "Health professionals, cleaning ladies, childcare workers, checkout staff: They all proved their commitment to the nation, and it is now the turn of the republic to take a step towards them."