European countries increase Covid-19 restrictions ahead of holidays

Madrid Desk, Dec 17 (EFE).- Several European countries on Friday announced new coronavirus restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus over the upcoming Christmas holidays.

Greece said it would require all travelers, including those arriving from the European Union and Schengen region, to provide both a Covid-19 certificate (showing proof of vaccination of recovery from Covid) and a negative PCR test to enter the country.

Russia also imposed new travel restrictions for travelers from southern Africa and Hong Kong including a negative PCR test taken 24 hours before departure and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from South Africa and neighboring countries.

President Vladimir Putin said the coronavirus situation in Russia was “tense” and urged citizens to be extra cautious during New Year’s celebrations.

Meanwhile, thousands of people planning to travel to France from the United Kingdom were trying to bring forward their travel plans after the French government on Thursday banned most UK travelers from entering due to the Omicron variant, which has caused a record spike of coronavirus infections in Britain.

Travel restrictions are also being extended in Nordic countries. Denmark, which hit a record in daily cases on Thursday, announced that new measures are being prepared and Finland will require a negative PCR test from all countries outside the Schengen region starting Tuesday.

On the other hand, Austria announced it will relax restrictions for its unvaccinated population during Christmas and New Year’s Eve, allowing gatherings with up to ten people.

The Austrian government lifted on December 12 a 20-day lockdown although unvaccinated people remain in lockdown, under which they are banned from all non-essential venues.

Despite an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases and intensive care unit occupancy in Italy, the government has yet to announce new restrictions to curb the spread ahead of the holidays.

The government did however extend the state of emergency until March 31.

Spanish doctors have urged citizens to limit Christmas gatherings as Covid-19 cases steadily increase across the country, triggering the sales of rapid antigen tests in pharmacies.


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