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Potential for December shutdown?

We are planning to visit Italy (Modena & Venice) and then France (Paris with 2 days in Strasbourg) starting December 9th and will be there for 12 days. I haven't been worried about COVID because we are fully vaccinated. I read that Austria has now decided to do a complete shutdown to tourists due to COVID and that earlier this week Germany made a similar decision (but doesn't seem to be full shutdown there). I'm now worried that shut downs for Italy or France are imminent and that we might ought to delay our trip. Is my worry misplaced? I've always wanted to see Paris and Strasbourg at Christmas time so I hate to cancel but I also don't want to get there and everything shut down. Is there a particular news source I should be looking at to get a better sense of potential for shutdowns? Any insights would be MUCH appreciated. [NOTE: I am posting this in both the Italy and France forum boards]


Posted by
5094 posts

We were in Italy last month, including taking a Balsamic Vinegar food tour in Modena. While there was a lockdown in 2020, and people told us how terrified they were before vaccines were available, Italy now has a much higher vaccine rate than Austria, or the USA. CBS news said last night that Austria’s vaccine rate was just 52%. You can monitor the Italy situation at

We needed to show our vaccination verification to fly to Italy, to get into the country, and to get inside many places. Masks were still needed many places, sanitizer was frequently offered, and reminders to keep 1 meter apart were prevalent. They’re taking things seriously enough that a new lockdown hasn’t been necessary.

Posted by
275 posts

I just got back from Italy 2 days ago and I didn't get the impression anything was changing at all. It was quite largely business as usual. The difference was simply showing my vax card everywhere, and wearing a mask everywhere. I felt safer there then I did here at home in the states because compliance was very very high.

We did run into a demonstration in Milan at the Duomo with 100s of riot police, and a very small "no greenpass" group, but they seem to be much more in the minority then the situation we have here in the USA.

Could something change? Sure, but I would not hesitate to go back.

Posted by
119 posts

Italy now has a much higher vaccine rate than Austria, or the USA. CBS
news said last night that Austria’s vaccine rate was just 52%.

I don't want to be argumentative, but the number quoted from the news is incorrect, and the rates are actually rather closer than this comment makes it seem. According to "Our world in data", for full immunisation of the entire population, they report Italy at 73%, the Netherlands at 73%, France at 69%, Austria at 65%, and the US at 58%. Source:

This is relevant for those travelling, if they begin to believe that Italy is immune from the winter wave that is surging across Europe. France's numbers are up considerably in just the last two days, and countries with equally high vaccination quotients to Italy and France, like the Netherlands, are experiencing serious surges.

My point here is simply that the situation is changing very quickly right now, and many European governments are responding with measures that will make holiday-season tourism less enjoyable or impossible. What will happen in different countries, either with the course of the virus or with specific national/local decisions about how to handle it, is of course unclear. But people thinking of visiting Europe in the next month should, indeed, keep a very close eye on all of this and not be lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that immunisation rates are comparably higher, or that things have been calm over the last few months.

Posted by
19217 posts

It's super-important when comparing vaccination rates to be sure you're dealing with apples vs. apples. It's all too easy to pick up a fully-vaccinated rate for Country X from one source and an at-least-partially-vaccinated rate for Country Y from another source. Sometimes articles are so unclear that I simply don't know what I'm looking at.

I guess now we need to consider the booster-administration rate as well.

Posted by
7728 posts

Nothing has been mentioned in this thread about shutdowns being based on ICU capacity. France has 71% capacity left, while parts of Germany and Austria are reaching capacity.
This is where the percentage of people over age 12 who are vaccinated comes into play, as opposed to the percentage of the entire population. France at 88%, means a lower percentage of the most vulnerable population, person's 12 and up, will enter ICU. The vast majority of those vaccinated who test positive, as well as children under 12, will have mild cases even if numbers are rising.

That said, the virus is circulating widely in France and Italy even if the outcomes differ and the society remains wide open.

Posted by
119 posts

Bets, I very much agree that the hospital rates are becoming the clear standard for judging things in our context in Central Europe, at least. And by that measure, France continues to do very well, as you say.

I in no way mean to suggest that widespread lockdowns are imminent, but only to comment that the situation is really quite in flux here, and it is not at all clear where the next few weeks will go. I don't have terribly much contact with America outside of my podcast-listening habits, but the sense I get from said podcasts etc is that the general tone there is far more relaxed at this particular point -- and still more focused on the notion that vaccinations are a straight path out of the pandemic -- than what I see reflected here. I think that it is better for potential visitors to just be aware of both the volatility of the current wave and the difference in approaches.

Posted by
486 posts

I am Italian and at the beginning of this month I worked in a 10-day orchestral concert tour in Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria that now, after only 2 weeks, would be impossible. My general feeling is that Italians, probably due to the very difficult situation in 2020, are taking things more seriously than their European neighbours. But, after that, nobody really knows what the future will be and we are to be ready for closures - hoping closures are partial. - My wife has been in the center of Florence this morning and she reports that there are less tourists than in the previous weeks.