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Europe closes borders in fight against coronavirus variants

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
Europe closes borders in fight against coronavirus variants
Copyright  Michel Euler/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Countries across Europe are attempting to slow the spread of coronavirus through a combination of stricter measures and travel restrictions.

Amidst increased testing and roll-out of vaccines, France has decided against a new all-out lockdown but closed borders for non-EU travel, although there will be some exceptions, and made a negative PCR test a requirement to enter the country.

Other measures announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex include the closure of larger shopping centres as well as stricter police enforcement of existing rules.

The UK is also ramping up compliance with 800-pound fines (900 euros) for people caught at house parties.

The penalty will apply for groups of more than 15 people and will double after each offence, up to a maximum of 7,230 euros for repeat offenders. Illegal gatherings have proved to be a constant problem for the authorities there.

In Germany, the government is imposing unprecedented travel restrictions, effectively banning people arriving from the UK, Portugal and Ireland.

Covid cases are continuing to fall

On Friday the number of contagions per 100,000 people over seven days fell to 94.4, the lowest figure since October.

Norway's airports are also quiet as the country takes the precaution of keeping travellers out apart from returning residents.

There are a handful of exceptions including health workers arriving from Sweden and Finland, and people transporting goods.