Europe locks up amid Covid-19 surge — Analysis
Many European countries have introduced new restrictions to deal with an increase of coronavirus infection.
Europe is imposing holiday restrictions to social life in light of increasing numbers of Covid-19-related cases. Authorities fear that Omicron-variant Omicron-variant patients could overwhelm hospitals.
Jean Castex (French Prime Minister) announced Monday new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. They will be in effect for three weeks and then go into effect on January 3.
Mass gatherings can only hold 2,000 indoors or 5,000 outside, and standing concerts are prohibited. The city center will see a reintroduction of the mask mandate. It will be prohibited to consume food or drinks at cinemas, sports venues and long-distance transport on public transportation.
The government stated that companies who allow remote work will need to provide at least three working days per week.
France has not yet preemptively closed schools. They will reopen on Monday. But, the special meeting of Wednesday will assess whether this measure is needed. Mid-January will see the introduction of a vaccine pass bill in parliament.
On Monday, Greece also announced new rules to govern the period January 3-16. These restrictions are a midnight curfew at bars and restaurants, as well as a prohibition on the serving of standing customers and six persons per table. Thanos Pelevris, Greece’s Health Minister, stated that these rules will be in place for three weeks. High-protection masks will be required for anyone who visits public places or uses mass transportation.
These measures are in addition to existing regulations that ban Christmas and New Year celebrations and prohibit unvaccinated persons from public places.
Germany’s restrictions last week were in effect as of Tuesday. Private gatherings are limited to 10 persons and only the immunized or the recovering can use them. Only two households can mix if one or more persons do not have proof of immunity.
Large public gatherings are also prohibited, which includes outdoor New Year celebrations on streets or squares. To discourage people from lighting firework in areas that are not permitted, the authorities threaten to fine them.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, while announcing regulations, stressed that his government had agreed with the heads of the federal states to implement them after Christmas. Previous experience had proven that this was possible. “Christmas and Easter haven’t been great drivers of infections.”
Spain’s northern region of Catalonia last week imposed a nightlife curfew, limited social gatherings to 10 people, and capped the capacity of many public venues to either 50% or 70%. These holiday restrictions, which will remain in effect until January 7, at the latest, are stricter than those in other areas of Spain and led to mass protests in Barcelona during Christmas Eve.
Pedro Sanchez, the Prime Minister of Spain failed to persuade regional leaders that they should have a common set of measures. This was beyond just a mandate for masks to be worn outdoors. Madrid, in contrast to Catalonia was more focused on increasing testing.