Will the Covid-19 pandemic still spoil the end of the year holidays? Faced with fears of an explosion in coronavirus cases, many countries decide to tighten health restrictions a few days before Christmas, in particular to contain the circulation of the Omicron variant.
Netherlands: the population reconfined
After establishing partial containment and imposing special restrictions on unvaccinated people, the government has announced a new turn of the screw. “I’m here tonight in a dark mood. To sum it up in one sentence, the Netherlands will return to containment from tomorrow, ”the Dutch Prime Minister announced on Saturday.
From this Sunday, the Netherlands are confined to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, until January 14. Thus, non-essential shops, as well as bars, restaurants, cinemas, theaters are closed as of today. Citizens can now only invite two people from outside their homes to their homes, and that number will increase to four for December 24 and 25, as well as New Year’s Eve.
Schools will also be closed from Monday, December 20, one week before the start of the holidays.
Ireland: bars close at 8 p.m.
On Friday December 17, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced the establishment of a curfew for all restaurants and bars, from 8 p.m., and valid from this Sunday until the end of January.
The Irish government has mentioned in particular the great risk that the Omicron variant represents for the hospital system, a variant which spreads “aggressively” in all age groups. “The need to slow the spread of Omicron and for more people to receive their booster dose is clear,” the Prime Minister said. According to the latest figures, Ireland has recorded more than 644,000 cases of coronavirus and 5,835 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Denmark: cultural sites closed for one month
Like several of its European neighbors, Denmark has announced a tightening of the rules as the holidays approach. From this Sunday, theaters, cinemas, museums, concert halls and even amusement parks are closed for a period of one month. “We need to limit our activity. We all need to limit our social contacts, ”Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
The country recorded a record coronavirus contamination last week, with 11,000 infections in 24 hours, at least 2,500 of which were attributable to the Omicron variant.
Germany: restrictions for travelers
To limit the spread of the Omicron variant during the holidays, Germany has placed the UK in the most ‘at risk’ countries, resulting in numerous travel restrictions. From this Sunday at midnight, travelers from Great Britain, vaccinated or not, will have to undergo a two-week quarantine on their arrival on German territory.
In addition, only German nationals or foreigners living in Germany are allowed to enter from the UK, and a PCR test will be systematically required for all people entering Germany.
France and Denmark have also already been classified among the “high risk” countries by the German authorities, ie at a lower level than that of the United Kingdom.
United States: companies tighten the screws
In the United States, it is the employers who are re-establishing stricter health restrictions on their employees. A US federal court in particular instituted Friday the vaccination obligation for employees of large companies, desired by the Biden administration, which had been suspended a few weeks ago.
Employees of companies with more than 100 employees will have to be vaccinated before January 4, under penalty of having to carry out very regular screening tests to access their offices.
Google notified its employees in early December that their wages would no longer be paid and that they could even be made redundant if they did not declare their vaccination status. In New York, many restaurants are closing their doors in the face of the outbreak, for fear of reliving the catastrophic Christmas of last year.
France: cancellation of fireworks
France is not to be outdone. Last week, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the cancellation of all concerts and fireworks on December 31, as well as groupings and alcohol consumption on public roads. A few days earlier, the government had also tightened the entry conditions for travelers from the United Kingdom on French territory during the coming weeks.
At the start of next year, the government will also look into transforming the health pass into a vaccination pass.