Omicron spread: These European countries have tightened Covid restrictions during Christmas

With the world witnessing a rising tide of covid-19 variant, Omicron, several European countries have geared up for a December lockdown. 
Experts have predicted there may be more than 3,000 hospitalisations in the United Kingdom each day if a lockdown isn’t implemented by January 1.(REUTERS)
Experts have predicted there may be more than 3,000 hospitalisations in the United Kingdom each day if a lockdown isn’t implemented by January 1.(REUTERS)
Published on Dec 19, 2021 04:30 PM IST
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Written by Vanshika lohia | Edited by Meenakshi Ray, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The rising cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), fuelled by the Omicron variant, in Europe has prompted several countries in the region to take precautionary measures to prevent another outbreak.

United Kingdom

Omicron is spreading across the sovereign and thriving in busy cities like London. A two-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown plan has been devised to be implemented post-Christmas to prevent widespread damage across the country, as per The Times.

Experts have predicted there may be more than 3,000 hospitalisations in the United Kingdom each day if a lockdown isn’t implemented by January 1.

Health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday analysis of the data suggested around 60% of all new Covid-19 cases in England are the fast-spreading Omicron variant, but the country was in a better position than last Christmas thanks to things such as vaccinations and testing.

"We will do what is necessary but it has got to be backed up by the data ... we are watching the data, discussing it with our scientists and our best advisers almost on an hourly basis and we will monitor that very carefully we will keep the situation under review."

Also Read| UK health minister declines to commit stricter Covid rules amid lockdown reports

The Netherlands

After an increase in Covid-19 cases with a hike of more than 15,000 infections daily in the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the country will be going into lockdown over the Christmas period.

All non-essential restaurants, shops, bars, cinemas and theatres will be closed in the country from December 19 to January 14. Only two guests would be allowed to visit a house during this period, with exception of four guests on Christmas, Christmas Eve and New Year.

“All this, exactly one week before Christmas. Another Christmas that is completely different from what we want. Very bad news again for all those businesses and cultural institutions that rely on the holidays,” Prime Minister Rutte said.

Also Read| Netherlands 'going into lockdown again' to curb Omicron

Germany and France

According to German health minister Karl Lauterbach, Germany’s health service is worried about a “massive fifth wave” coming from the Omicron variant.

Travellers from the UK have been banned from entering the country, except for German nationals who regardless of their vaccination status, must quarantine for two weeks and get a negative Covid test.

France has implemented similar curbs on Saturday, by banning tourists from Britain from journeying between the two countries.

Also Read| Covid: Germany hits UK travellers with new restrictions

Other countries

Spain’s coronavirus disease cases have risen to a ‘very high risk’ level. However, there have been no new announcements of an impending lockdown.

On the other hand, Austria seems to be in a better situation with the country finally loosening its restrictions on the unvaccinated.

“Christmas should show us once again how important contact with our loved ones is and how precious time together is,” health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said.

Austria was the first western European country to impose a lockdown last month and seems to be among a limited few opening up in December.

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