Germany, Spain and Italy plan action over Christmas period to reduce Omicron cases


Germany, Spain, Italy and Sweden plan to introduce new Covid restrictions over the holiday season, as more European countries step up measures to slow the spread of the Omicron variant .

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the country’s 16 state governors were due to meet on Tuesday after the government’s new panel of experts called for action within days.

Experts said nationwide measures are needed, in particular “well-planned and well-communicated contact restrictions.”

Nightclubs are likely to be closed regardless of local infection rates, and there may be other crowd restrictions during major events.

A customer walks past a department store in Berlin, Germany (Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

Access to restaurants, theaters and other venues will remain open to vaccinated and recovered, who will also be limited to a maximum of 10 people for social gatherings from December 28, according to Reuters.

The German Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases recommended that “maximum contact restrictions” be imposed, starting immediately.

The recommendations, which were to be implemented until mid-January, also included restricting non-essential travel, speeding up the vaccination campaign and making a sufficient number of free coronavirus tests available.

Germany recorded 23,428 new infections and 462 deaths on Tuesday. The UK reported 91,743 infections and 44 deaths on Monday.

Measures are also envisaged in Catalonia by Spain, where Barcelona’s popular tourist hotspot is located.

Christmas decorations in Barcelona, ​​Spain, the first Spanish region to impose strict Covid measures during the holiday season (Photo: Emilio Morenatti)

It could become the first Spanish region to reinstate strict Covid rules, with health authorities asking courts to allow a series of measures including a 1am to 6am curfew, a limit of 10 people for social gatherings, closing nightclubs and limiting capacity in restaurants to 50 percent and stores, gymnasiums and theaters to 70 percent.

Officials were due to meet on Tuesday to decide on new measures, which should include contact restrictions even for those vaccinated and those who have recovered from infection. If approved by the courts, the measures would go into effect on Friday – Christmas Eve – and last for 15 days in the northeast region surrounding Barcelona. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plans to hold an emergency meeting with the country’s regional leaders on Wednesday to “assess new measures that could be introduced in the coming weeks.”

The inhabitants of Rome and the surrounding Lazio region in Italy must wear a mask outdoors from Thursday for a month.

Lazio region president Nicola Zingaretti on Monday signed an ordinance making it compulsory to wear a mask outdoors on Christmas and New Years, according to Il Messaggero. Masks were already mandatory outdoors in crowded areas of Rome following an order earlier this month.

Safer Omicron variant

“It is a precautionary measure but essential to preserve our health and that of our loved ones at a time like this,” Zingaretti said. “This time too, we are on guard and as in the past, we are anticipating the virus. “

Italy is also holding an emergency meeting on Thursday, which could discuss mandatory testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated people to access major events, according to local media.

Sweden urged people to work from home under new measures announced on Tuesday, which include tougher social distancing rules.

The latest restrictions, some of which will be introduced on Thursday, also include a limit of 50 people at private gatherings and the need for a vaccine pass for public events where there are more than 500 people.

Bars and restaurants may only offer a seated-only service which will also apply to larger public events, implying that places such as nightclubs may have to close.

it comes after Ireland imposed an 8 p.m. curfew for pubs from Monday, which is expected to last until January 30, while Switzerland excluded the unvaccinated from public places, including restaurants, museums and gyms, in new measures that also began this week.

the Netherlands returned to lockdown on Sunday, with restaurants, hairdressers, gyms and museums closed in a move expected to last until at least January 14.

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