European leaders lay out COVID Christmas plans

People across Europe know their Christmas and holiday season will look different this year because of COVID-19, as governments on the continent begin laying out their plans.

French President Emmanuel Macron is giving a speech to the nation on Tuesday (November 24) when he may announce a relaxation of lockdown rules.

Residents in Paris were hopeful it might mean families can get together.

"I hope we will get to see our families for Christmas, probably not see more people, but being able to see our families would already be a good thing."

"I hope to spend Christmas with my relatives, with my parents who live in Lyon, my grandmothers who also live in Lyon, my uncles and aunts. That's what my expectations are."

Coronavirus cases in France have been falling, suggesting a second national lockdown is making its mark.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned Italians not to ski during the Christmas holidays to help curb its second wave.

He also called on other European countries to agree on common rules on winter sports, to prevent importing infections.

Italian ski resorts are worth about $13 billion dollars a year, a third of which is made during Christmas and New Year.

But Conte said this year it would not be possible "to allow holidays on the snow. We cannot afford it."

Over in Germany, “lockdown light” restrictions are set to be extended to just five days before Christmas to slow the spread, when groups of 10 people will be allowed to meet and celebrate.

Until then though, gatherings will be limited to just 5 people.

European governments are also starting to make vaccination plans.

The Spanish government has announced it will give priority to elderly residents and health workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

It hopes to start in January, and to cover a substantial part of the population within the first six months.