January 26, 2022

Belgium, Spain … as Christmas approaches, European countries are implementing new restrictions

Two days before Christmas, Europe is increasing the restrictions, Wednesday, December 22, to cope with the surge of the Omicron variant. A variant “In the process of becoming or already becoming dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom”, according to the WHO, and whose very high contagiousness could have serious consequences on the collective level – the outbreak of contaminations automatically resulting in an increase in the number of hospitalized patients.

Vaccination Covid-19 : follow the progress of the campaign around the world
  • Cinemas and theaters closed in Belgium

Cinemas and theaters will be closed in Belgium from Sunday in order to stem the spread of the Omicron variant, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

Cafes and restaurants, which also feared additional restrictions, can stay open until 11 p.m. during the holiday season, as has been the case since the beginning of December. Museums are not affected by the new measures.

  • Wearing a mask becomes compulsory once again outside in Spain

Wearing a mask will become compulsory again outside in Spain from Thursday, when the number of Covid-19 cases explodes, the government announced Wednesday – where more than 60,000 cases have been identified in twenty-four hours. “The mask has demonstrated in recent months that it is an effective tool in prevention”, was justified Pedro Sanchez, during a press conference, Wednesday evening.

The Prime Minister specified that there would be some exceptions to this obligation: the practice of sport, being alone – or surrounded by people of his household – in a natural space such as in the mountains or at the beach. Pedro Sanchez explained that this measure was ” temporary “ and would be withdrawn ” as soon as possible “.

A decree to this effect will be adopted on Thursday and the measure will therefore be effective for Christmas, which always gives rise to important gatherings conducive to the spread of the virus. Another measure contained in the future decree: the period of validity of the vaccination will be established from the 1is February 2022 nine months after the date of the last dose.

In recent weeks, several regions of Spain have been calling for a tightening of health measures. Some, like Catalonia, are even asking for a return to more drastic restrictions such as the curfew.

  • The United Kingdom crosses the threshold of 100,000 cases in twenty-four hours, but lightens its protocol for people cured of Covid-19

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the United Kingdom recorded, on Wednesday, more than 100,000 cases of contamination in twenty-four hours, as the epidemic outbreak due to the Omicron variant leads to new restrictions in some regions to two days of Christmas.

Faced with this skyrocketing progression of the epidemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Monday that he “Would not hesitate” to introduce more restrictive measures than the wearing of a mask and the recommendation of teleworking currently in force, but has chosen to delay.

For now, the government announced on Wednesday the reduction from ten to seven days of the isolation period in England for vaccinated people who have contracted Covid-19. People who have two negative antigenic tests carried out on the sixth and seventh days will now be able to come out of their isolation. According to the government, more people will be able to spend Christmas with their families, without risking transmitting the virus.

  • Sweden demands negative test for all travelers

Sweden announced, in turn, on Wednesday, a restriction of the conditions of entry into its territory for travelers from other countries of the European Union, who will have from December 28 to present a negative Covid-19 test. , even if they are vaccinated. However, children under 12 and travelers of Swedish nationality or residing in Sweden are not affected by this obligation.

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Seven other EU member states – Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Greece and Austria – already require a negative test, even for those vaccinated from the EU, and Finland announced on Tuesday evening that she was going to do the same.

Denmark also intends to follow suit, after the agreement of its Parliament, announced the government on Wednesday.

According to the European Commission, the requirement of a negative test in the EU must be subject to notice, be time-bound and proportionate. “We understand that some member states are taking action, but (…) we are not really convinced that for travel it is very useful, we still think that the certificate is the element which should suffice ”, said Commissioner Didier Reynders.

The World with AFP