Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Monday that in the UK, where a highly contagious strain of coronavirus has led to an increase in the number of cases, no further restrictions will be imposed in England until the new year. The number of new daily infections in England is around 100,000, and the number of hospital admissions for Christmas is up more than 70% from a week earlier.
“When we enter the new year, of course, we will see if we need to take any further action, but no more, at least until then,” Javid said.
However, in other parts of the United Kingdom, nightclubs were closed and restrictions on gatherings were imposed in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, leaving the country divided in its approach to the crisis.
In the meantime, the Netherlands has already closed all nonessential shops, restaurants and bars and extended school holidays, which is pretty much tantamount to new isolation. In Belgium, new measures came into effect on Monday and over the weekend: shopping in large groups was prohibited, and cinemas and concert halls closed in the middle of the holiday season.
In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced a set of restrictions that will take effect next week after New Years. Among them: major events will be limited to 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 outdoors; food and drink will be prohibited in theaters, sports venues and public transport; and work from home will be required at least three days a week for employees whose work allows them to do so.
In addition, France will vote next month on a bill to create a vaccine pass that would allow only vaccinated people to enter public places, including restaurants, bars and cinemas.
The measures came after France registered more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time in a pandemic.
In the US, the Biden administration highlighted the importance of vaccinations, revaccinations and rapid testing, while New York’s widespread requirement that nearly all businesses, large and small, keep unvaccinated employees out of work, took effect Monday. This was announced three weeks ago, shortly after the omicron took hold in the United States.
The chief US expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that the omicron “gets worse before it gets better,” and said authorities should seriously consider mandating vaccinations for domestic passengers.…
“When you make vaccination a requirement, that’s another incentive to vaccinate more people,” Fauci told MSNBC.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday lifted isolation restrictions for people who have the virus. saying this is in line with the science of when people are most infectious, and could also help industries to continue to function when the incidence spikes.
“We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning by following science,” CDC director Rochelle Walenski told The Associated Press.
Omicron forced to cancel thousands of flights and worldwide delays due to staff shortages linked to the virus, disrupting travelers’ vacation plans.
FlightAware, a flight tracking website, counted more than 2,700 cancellations worldwide by Monday night in Europe, with about 1,100 in the US, in the US and beyond.
Despite the extraordinary ability of this variant to infect humans, early signs indicate that it may cause milder disease than previous versions. This uncertainty leaves governments guessing and leads to a wide variety of surge containment strategies.
The Greek authorities announced additional restrictions – also in effect after the New Year – after a record number of new infections in one day – almost 9,300.
Health Minister Thanos Pleuris said that high-security double face masks will be used in supermarkets and public transport starting January 3; entertainment venues will close at midnight and the capacity of football stadiums, among other things, will be reduced by up to 10%.
Other parts of Europe are also hesitant to impose additional restrictions on their citizens.
In Poland, a country of 38 million people where the daily death toll often exceeds 500, nightclubs that are closed will now be allowed to open on New Year’s Eve as the government is unwilling to go against the will of many voters who oppose restrictions and binding rules. vaccination.
And despite the largest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe, Russia will welcome the new year without any restrictions. Many of the precautions will be canceled during the 10-day holiday period, starting with New Year’s Eve. Russia will also not impose any additional travel restrictions.
From April 2020 to October 2021, Russia recorded 537,000 virus-related deaths, according to the official statistics agency Rosstat.
In Belgium, the closure of theaters and art centers has drawn particularly harsh criticism.
“We also need him for our mental health. For people, this is the only way to experience experiences, to tell stories. It is extremely important for us to be open in these difficult and difficult times, ”said Michael De Kock, artistic director of the Royal Flemish Theater.
Some cinemas have remained open as a sign of civil disobedience.
The main element of British holidays – the broadcast of English Premier League football matches – is also under threat. The league has canceled 15 games in the past 2 1/2 weeks and others may follow.
Associated Press Writers Zeke Miller in Washington; Colleen Barry in Milan, Italy; Sylvia Hui in London; Sylvie Corbet in Paris; Molly Quell in The Hague, Netherlands; Geir Moulson in Berlin; Jari Tanner in Tallinn, Estonia; Ulyana Pavlova in Moscow; and Vanessa Gera from Warsaw contributed to this report.