Thursday, May 19

COVID in Europe: Austria extends lockdown as Portugal tightens restrictions

COVID-19 cases are sweeping Europe once again; here’s a breakdown of how each country has reacted to the increase.

Measures vary across the continent, from a national lockdown in Austria to the UK, where there are only mild restrictions.

Concerns about the new Omicron variant spotted in South Africa has led many European countries to put a stop to travel.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization warned that Europe and Central Asia could face another 700,000 deaths from COVID-19 by March 1.

Below is a summary of the most recent situation in some of the European countries.


Austria’s lockdown has been officially extended until December 11 as planned amid signs that the measures are helping to reduce a skyrocketing coronavirus infection rate.

However, essential stores that were able to open until 9 p.m. will be required to close at 7 p.m. starting Thursday (December 2).

The country issued the blockade on Monday (November 22), becoming the first EU country to take such a measure in the face of the resurgence of COVID-19.

Conservative Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has also said that vaccination will be mandatory from February 1.

Austrian authorities said on November 17 that travelers would have to show a negative PCR test upon entering the country. Previously, cheaper lateral flow test results were allowed.


Portugal reintroduced stricter pandemic restrictions on Wednesday to contain a further surge in infections.

Masks have become mandatory again and the country has tightened control of its borders.

A digital certificate proving COVID-19 vaccination or recovery is required to access restaurants, cinemas, and hotels.

Portugal has a high vaccination rate with around 86% of its population fully vaccinated against the virus.


A German high court upheld the measures imposed by the government to address the highest levels of COVID-19 infection.

The Federal Constitutional Court determined that the curfew and school closings were in line with the country’s constitution.

More recently, Germany reported 67,000 new cases and 446 deaths.

United Kingdom

UK scientists have advised that all adults should now be included in the COVID-19 booster jab campaign in the wake of the spread of the Omicron variant.

The new variant is causing concern around the world due to the large number of mutations it has, which scientists warn could have implications not only for transmissibility but also for the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Wei Shen Lim, chairman of a UK government vaccination subcommittee, told a news conference on Monday that all adults between the ages of 18 and 34 should be included in the booster program.


Belgium has closed nightclubs and requires people to work from home as part of an effort to curb COVID-19 cases. The government issued new measures on Friday (November 26), including closing bars and restaurants starting at 11pm.

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Indoor events must be seated and private gatherings, as well as weddings and funerals, are prohibited.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Thursday (November 25) that his country had seen an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations much worse than feared, after reimposing stricter rules against the pandemic last week. .

The increase surpassed “the most pessimistic curves” drawn last week by experts, it said in a statement.


A new round of restrictions went into effect over the weekend, including the closure of all non-essential shops, including bars and restaurants, from 5:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

Hospitality and cultural venues must ensure that people are seated 1.5m apart, which “means fewer people can be admitted to these venues,” the government said.

Amateur sporting events are also not allowed between 17:00 and 05:00 and professional sporting events can continue but without spectators.

Czech Republic

A 30-day state of emergency came into effect on Friday (November 26) as the Czech Republic records record cases of COVID-19.

As part of the government’s anti-COVID measures, all Christmas markets across the country are banned and people will not be allowed to drink alcohol in public places, Health Minister Adam Vojtech said. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, discos and casinos must close at 10 pm

The number of people at cultural and sporting events will be limited to 1,000 who are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. All other public meetings can be attended by up to 100 visitors, instead of 1,000.


Slovakia declared a 90-day state of emergency and a two-week lockdown following a surge in COVID-19 cases that pushed the country’s seven-day average cases to more than 10,000.

The central European country is currently in the midst of the fastest rise in infections in the world, and the measures, which include closing all non-essential shops, as well as bars and restaurants, are aimed at helping the healthcare system in difficulties.

Only 45.3% of the 5.5 million inhabitants are fully vaccinated.


French Health Minister Olivier Véran warned on Tuesday (November 30) that the health situation in the country “is getting worse.”

During a speech to legislators, he said that 47,000 new infections have been confirmed in the last 24 hours and that it represents “an increase in the spread of the virus in the national territory.”

Starting January 15, all adults will need a booster shot at least seven months after being fully vaccinated to maintain their health passes. Starting in mid-December, people over 65 will need one to extend their health passes.

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Approximately 76.8% of the 67.4 million inhabitants of France are fully vaccinated, according to the latest figures.


The Italian government decided on Wednesday (November 24) to exclude unvaccinated people from certain leisure activities in a bid to contain the rise in coronavirus infections and avoid financially crippling lockdowns.

Starting December 6, only people with proof of vaccination or having recovered from COVID-19 will be able to eat at indoor restaurants, go to the movies or attend sporting events. Having just one negative test result is no longer acceptable in what was termed a “hardened” or super green pass.

A new government decree also made vaccinations mandatory for law enforcement, the military, and all school employees, among others. Previously, vaccinations were only required for healthcare workers.

Twenty cities in the Italian province of South Tyrol face tougher COVID-19 restrictions since Wednesday (November 24) with a curfew at 8 p.m. due to high infections and low vaccinations.

In public transportation, passengers must wear an FFP2 mask or equivalent.


Coronavirus infections in Russia have started to decline, but daily deaths remain high.

More than 31,000 new infections were reported on Tuesday (November 30) and about 1,195 deaths.

Cases spiked in October amid low vaccination rates and lax public attitudes toward taking precautions. Roughly 40% of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, despite the country having approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed in the country months earlier than most of the world.


The Swedish government has announced that from December 1 a health pass will be required to attend any event of more than 100 people.

The COVID pass, which certifies that the holder has been fully vaccinated, tested negative in the previous 72 hours or recovered from the disease during the previous six months, has so far only been used in Sweden for travel.

The government also reversed its Nov. 1 decision to stop testing fully vaccinated people.


As of Friday (December 3), people arriving from abroad must have a negative test result in addition to being vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19. The government also began recommending face masks for children.

New COVID-19 restrictions It came into force in Ireland on Thursday (November 18) due to high infection rates that have put pressure on hospitals. People were told to work from home unless attending the workplace was “absolutely necessary.”

The requirement for COVID-19 passes (based on vaccination or recovery) extends to cinemas and theaters, while closing times for all licensed venues, including hotels, will move to midnight.

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Starting December 9, unvaccinated civil servants and social workers will be fired, the government said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on November 16 that those who receive two injections of the vaccine will receive a payment of 1,000 hryvnias, or about 33 euros, in an attempt to alleviate reluctance to vaccination.

Statistics on how many people received both doses vary wildly, with reports stating that it is between 20 and 28 percent.


Swiss voters approved by a clear margin the so-called ‘COVID-19 law’ in a referendum on Sunday (November 28).

The legislation, which is already in effect, includes a pandemic recovery package and the application of a controversial COVID certificate.

As in many other countries in Europe, this health pass only allows people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative to attend public events and meetings.


Cases are starting to decline in Bulgaria after a massive spike in October, but the vaccination rate is still quite low, only a quarter of the population.

There were 2,681 new cases reported on Wednesday (December 1) and 128 deaths.

The country has 6,470 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and 717 in intensive care units.


Like Bulgaria, Romania has found itself in the midst of a deadly spike in cases in October, but cases have now dropped significantly since the beginning of the month.


Protesters rallied in Zagreb over the weekend for tougher COVID restrictions after the government announced plans to introduce mandatory COVID passes for government and public employees, including school teachers.

The nation of around four million people has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the European Union, with only 53 percent of the total receiving at least one injection, and only 57 percent of the 3.3 million adults fully immunized.


Beginning December 15, individuals must present a COVID-19 vaccination or recovery certificate in order to report to work.

People who are not vaccinated or who have not recovered from COVID-19 can enter grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential stores.


Denmark will offer COVID-19 booster jobs to people over the age of 18, the health authority said on Thursday (Nov 26), indicating that immunity was also waning for people in younger age groups.

On November 12, Denmark reintroduced its digital pass by declaring COVID-19 a “socially critical disease” once again amid a surge in cases.

During the next month, a valid pass is mandatory to enter nightclubs or cafes or to sit inside restaurants.

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