Monday, March 27

Omicron spread casts pessimism on New Year’s Eve celebration in Europe

Omicron cast pessimism on Christmas celebrations across Europe for the second year in a row, and it looks like it will do the same for New Years celebrations as well.

Several countries are considering more restrictions to add to the mosaic of closures and other measures that already exist in Europe.

And America’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Monday that with the rise in the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, it will “get worse before it gets better.”

“We don’t expect things to change in a few days or a week. It will probably take a lot longer than that, but that’s unpredictable, “he said on ABC.

It is the unpredictability that keeps governments doubting and choosing very diverse strategies to roll back the pandemic.

Governments monitor data as the new year approaches

The French government and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were evaluating the latest data and the need to counter the record number of COVID-19 infections with more measures to keep people apart at a time when they want to be together.

But with hints that Omicron might be a gentler variant despite its extraordinary ability to infect people, politicians found themselves in a quandary over whether to ruin another party or play it safe to make sure the systems of medical care do not collapse.

To further complicate matters, the lack of complete data over the Christmas weekend made it more difficult to chart Omicron’s course.

In Belgium, people faced their first real test with several new measures on Monday.

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Large group shopping has been banned and cinemas and concert halls have been closed at a time when countless families are on vacation together.

Calls to close theaters and arts centers were the subject of especially harsh criticism.

“We also need it for our mental health. It is the only way that people have to live experiences, to tell stories. It is of the utmost importance for us to be open in these complicated and complex times,” said Michael De Kok, artistic director of the Theater. Real Flamenco.

Some movie theaters remained open in an act of civil disobedience, and police, already stretched out over the holidays, said they could not enforce all the closures.

Communal celebrations such as the New Year’s fireworks, which generally attract thousands of people in Brussels, are canceled. The discos are already closed and the restaurants and bars must close their doors at 11 at night.

In Britain, there are similar movements. Scotland planned to close its nightclubs on Monday. Northern Ireland and Wales did so on Sunday, although they are still open in England.

Johnson, who has resisted ordering new restrictions but is not ruling them out, was expected to be briefed on the latest data on the Omicron spread on Monday.

For football fans, even the English Premier League is under threat. The league has canceled 15 games in the past two and a half weeks, with more to follow.

Daily infection figures in Britain hit a new high of 122,186 on Friday, but there were no figures over the long Christmas weekend.

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France has recorded more than 100,000 infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic, and COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled in the last month.

The government of President Emmanuel Macron also scheduled emergency meetings on Monday to discuss its next steps.

Vaccine intensification is expected to be sufficient.

The government is pushing for a bill that would require people to get vaccinated to enter all restaurants and many public places, instead of the current health pass system that allows people to produce a negative test or a recovery test if they are not vaccinated.

This fragmented, often wavering approach is visible across much of Europe.

In Poland, a nation of 38 million where the daily death toll now often exceeds 500, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen on New Years Eve, and the government will not be willing to go against the many. voters who oppose restrictions and mandatory vaccinations.

In Italy, the government has not imposed any rules for private gatherings, but has banned outdoor events on New Year’s Eve and nightclubs closed until the end of January.

The Netherlands has gone further than most other European countries, closing all nonessential shops, restaurants and bars, and extending the school holidays in a new partial lockdown.

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