It started with the Netherlands reimposing its COVID lockdown on Saturday, but now that the surge in cases and hospitalizations (coinciding with the arrival of the much-discussed but seldom seen omicron variant) has arrived both in the UK and across the channel on the Continent, it seems more major European economies are following suit.
Per the FT, more European countries are rushing to tighten restrictions in an effort to help reduce the stop the COVID surge after the Netherlands reimposed a strict nationwide lockdown on Saturday.
Germany, the biggest economy in the bloc (it’s often seen as the EU’s de facto leader, along with France), set new entry restrictions on people entering the country from the UK: they will be required to quarantine for 14 days regardless of their vaccination status. According to Berlin, the UK is now officially a “virus variant region”, which warrants the tightest entry restrictions. What’s more, only German citizens entering from the UK will be allowed in; Brits are temporarily banned from entering Germany.
New travel restrictions have also been imposed on arrivals from Denmark, France, and Norway, with new arrivals needing to quarantine for at least five days if they are not vaccinated or recovered from the virus.
But foreigners aren’t the only ones facing tighter restrictions in Germany. The German people are also facing new rules, with private gatherings over the holiday season capped at 10 people starting Dec. 28.
Austria, which is just emerging from a nationwide COVID lockdown, said it would allow entry only to vaccinated travelers starting Monday. However, those who haven’t received a booster shot would be required to take a test in order to enter the country.
But the most restrictive measures have been implemented by the Dutch government, which has closed all bars, non-essential shops, hospitality venues, cinemas, and gyms until at least Jan. 14. And households are only allowed to invite four guests over during the Christmas holiday season.
Additionally, Ireland is introducing a 2000 local time curfew for pubs and restaurants starting Monday after the government rowed back from recommendations from health experts to order hospitality venues to shut at 1700ET.
Italy’s health ministry this weekend told regions to strengthen measures to manage the epidemic as officials fret about a potential surge in hospitalizations. Campania, the region that subsumes Naples and the Amalfi coast, has temporarily banned indoor gatherings including children’s parties.
Finally, back in the UK, the media reported Monday morning that PM Boris Johnson likely won’t impose any further restrictions before Christmas. The PM called a cabinet meeting this afternoon to discuss the latest data on the spread of the omicron variant and whether a two-week “circuit breaker” barring mixing indoors might be necessary.
As more Western governments resort to lockdowns and other restrictions, it’s important to remember: deaths have remained well below their levels from a year ago.
That's it, I am calling the Omicron variant a FUD here.— Arthur (@Arthur_0x) December 20, 2021
Enough of lock-downs without convincing evidence that the cost-benefits is worth it. pic.twitter.com/dVx0fGEKlt
And while Moderna and Pfizer pump out new study data touting the efficacy of their respective vaccines, the EMA – Europe’s top vaccine authority – has just officially recommended the Novavax vaccine for use in the bloc. Of course, each individual member will need to decide on their own whether to approve it or not.
COVID infections haven’t only surged in Europe – they’re rising in New York as well: both New York State and Washington DC, have reported successive days of record cases.
On Sunday, Dr. Fauci warned of mounting “stress” on the US hospital system as new cases are “raging” through America and the world (although right now the US waves have mostly been contained to New York and Washington).
“Our hospitals, if things look like they’re looking now, in the next week or two, are going to be very stressed with people,” Fauci told ABC on Sunday.
As for whether that will translate into more deaths, well, that remains to be seen.