Europe fears shutdown and Omikron
Many European countries are working to balance two tragedies, such as the spread of the new type of coronavirus (#Covid-19) Omicron variant across the continent on the one hand, and the pandemic, which consumes most of the countries’ budgets, and fears of closure with negative economic repercussions, on the other.
Recording the highest infection rate in Europe with the new mutation, Health Minister Sajid Javid in England said yesterday (Sunday) that new restrictions could be applied a few days before Christmas to prevent the spread of the very fast spreading Omikron variant. While the UK has registered a new rise in Omicron cases, government advisers have described it as just the tip of the iceberg. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, mentioned that there is a serious situation regarding the increase in cases caused by the new variant in hospitals in the capital.
Asked whether it would be possible to implement the new restrictions before Christmas, Javid told the BBC: “We are assessing the rapidly changing situation. “There are no guarantees in this pandemic and everything needs to be reviewed at this point,” he said. Javid said the government is taking realistic advice from scientists who monitor data approximately hourly, trying to balance the broader impact of restrictions on areas such as jobs and education. The Minister of Health stated that there is still a lot we do not know about Omikron, but waiting until the data become clear may not leave enough time to fight the virus. The number of Omikron cases recorded in the country increased from 10 thousand to approximately 25 thousand in 24 hours. The total number of new Kovid-19 cases, on the other hand, increased by 44.4% compared to the previous week and reached 90 thousand 418. Javid said the government thinks 60 percent of new cases in the UK are the Omicron variant. Khan, on the other hand, stated that new restrictions are necessary to contain Kovid-19, because without restrictions, public service health institutions could collapse under the pressure of the increase in the number of cases.
German authorities announced that the UK was included in the list of high-risk countries due to the Kovid-19 outbreak. The German Health Monitoring Agency stated that the decisions on the subject will come into effect as of midnight yesterday (Sunday). According to these restrictions, it was announced that anyone arriving from the UK, including those who have been vaccinated or recovered from an infection, must undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine in Germany.
In Italy, local newspapers reported yesterday that the government is considering implementing new measures to prevent an increase in the number of cases during the holiday period, amid concerns about the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. The Corriere della Sera newspaper said that after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s meeting with ministers on December 23, a mandate to test people who have been vaccinated before entering crowded places, including amusement parks and stadiums, to prove they are not infected, may be imposed.
In addition to wearing masks in open areas, a Kovid-19 test result will be required to enter cinemas and theaters. Under current rules, people who have been vaccinated or have just recovered from the infection could enter bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas, clubs and sporting events without having to test.
Shopping centers were closed in the Netherlands, and people’s Christmas plans were canceled as a result of the start of a new curfew as of yesterday in order to prevent the expected increase in the number of cases as a result of the spread of the new variant. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the abrupt closure measures would be implemented on Saturday evening and ordered the closure of all retail stores except those selling essential goods. At the same time, restaurants, hair salons, gyms, museums and other public places were closed until January 14.
These news shocked the Dutch public before Christmas and New Year’s Eve. While accommodation sector employees demanded compensation for their lost income during the holiday season, gym owners emphasized the importance of sports in health crises. At the same time, all schools in the country will be closed from today (Monday) until January 9th.