Europe boosts restrictions as Covid takes hold ahead of New Year

Madrid Desk, Dec 27 (EFE).- Spain, Germany and a host of European nations are drawing up further restrictions on social life to curb sky-rocketing Covid-19 cases with New Year on the horizon.

Many of the new rules will impact hospitality and nightlife sectors, which have already suffered from cancellations over the Christmas period amid a surge in infections driven by the highly-contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

In Spain, decision-making on Covid restrictions is taking place at a regional government level and so far authorities in six regions in the country’s north have agreed on placing limits on nightlife ahead of New Year’s celebrations by forcing restaurants and bars to close earlier than usual.

Large New Year celebrations have also been called off in the capital Madrid.

Spain on Monday marked one year since the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in the country. Since then, nearly 38 million of the country’s 47 million people have received a full course of a vaccine.

In neighboring Portugal, fresh Covid-19 restrictions have been in place since December 25 amid a boom in cases over the festive season that has seen the two-week incidence rate rocket from 630 cases per 100,000 inhabitants Friday to 804 on Monday, health authorities said.

In the two days before Christmas, the Portuguese took a record 620,000 Covid tests, excluding self-tests at home, before mixing with family and friends.

Officials reported 6,334 new infections on Monday, the highest daily figure since January.

Germans are also facing tougher curbs as part of the authorities’ bid to keep a handle on infection rates.

Social gatherings will from Tuesday be limited to 10 people in both indoor and outdoor settings while firework displays for the New Year have been scrapped once again. That number is reduced to two from outside the household for the unvaccinated.

The Robert Koch Institute of disease control warned that a recent easing in the number of reported infections could be down to a decrease of analysis over the Christmas period.

Restrictions change from state to state, with some states opting to implement the 10-person rule early.

Officials in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern announced the closure of cinemas, theaters, museums and zoos from Monday while in Baden-Württenberg, restaurants, bars and other such establishments must close at 10.30pm.

Contrary to other European nations, England, which is ahead of the continent in terms of the current Omicron wave, will not have new restrictions in place for the New Year, UK health secretary Sajid Javid said Monday.

UK health authorities detected 98,515 new cases Monday, although authorities warned that the figures over the Christmas period may not fully reflect the situation.

England reported a record-breaking 113,628 Covid infections on Christmas Day, data revealed Monday.

The French government plans to enforce remote working where possible for three days a week and cut the time between the second dose and the booster from five to three months. EFE


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