European countries should not ease coronavirus restrictions too quickly, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen warned on Wednesday, stressing the risk of a post-Christmas third wave.
Some European nations are slowly relaxing measures including stay-at-home orders put in place to fight the pandemic, as they gear up for end-of-year holidays.
But von der Leyen told EU lawmakers: “We must learn from the summer and not repeat the same mistakes, relaxing too fast.”
French President Emmanuel Macron announced late on Tuesday that shops could reopen on Saturday and nationwide stay-at-home orders would be lifted from December 15, though a nighttime curfew would be reintroduced.
Elsewhere in Europe, 16 German states agreed on guidelines for Christmas that were less strict than those proposed for the rest of December, even as virus cases near one million.
State leaders agreed to cap gatherings to 10 people over the December 23 to January 1 holiday — double the limit for the rest of December.
The latest bulletin by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control issued early this week classes most of the European Union countries, including France and Germany, as being of “serious concern”.
“Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas,” von der Leyen said.
“Weeks ago, I said that this Christmas will be different. And yes, it will be quieter.”