Omicron variant, Europe fears ‘storm’: measures and restrictions

The WHO alarm for the Old Continent. Germany, Portugal, Sweden and Denmark launch the squeeze

The Omicron variant spreads, covid infections do not stop and Europe is running for cover with assorted restrictions. While waiting for the control room scheduled for tomorrow with Prime Minister Mario Draghi to define the line of Italy, other countries launch the squeeze to try to bend the curve.

The measures come as the WHO triggers yet another alarm in the Old Continent: “We can see another storm coming. The Omicron variant is becoming dominant, or already is, in several countries including Denmark, Portugal and the UK, where its numbers double every day and a half-3, with rates of transmission never seen before, “says Hans Kluge, director of the Regional Office of the World Health Organization for Europe. The variant, identified less than a month ago, has already been identified in 38 of the 53 countries of the WHO European Region. The huge volume of new infections could lead to multiple hospitalizations and widespread disruptions to health systems and other critical services.

In Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced a series of restrictions – also valid for vaccinated and recovered from covid – which will come into force in a week, including the obligation to play sporting events behind closed doors. Scholz explained that the new rules are meant to dissuade people from attending large parties on New Year’s Eve. “Now is not the time for parties in large groups,” said the chancellor, confirming that a maximum of ten people will be imposed for private meetings, excluding children under 14 from the account.

Access to restaurants remains limited to people who can prove they have been vaccinated or cured. Furthermore, starting from 28 December, the presence of spectators at sporting events, cultural shows, concerts and other large public events will be prohibited. Finally, all discos will be closed.

Sweden urges the use of smart working, highlights the need to respect social distancing and imposes new rules for bars and restaurants. The goal is to prevent infections from escalating to the 15,000 daily cases expected in mid-January in the worst-case scenario. In previous waves, the daily bulletins never exceeded 11,000.

Portugal orders the closure of clubs and bars, smart working becomes the rule from 26 December at least until 9 January. To enter Portuguese hotels you will need a negative buffer, no meetings of more than 10 people will be allowed on New Year’s Eve. The squeeze is launched with an incidence of 433 cases per one million inhabitants. The previous week the figure was 386 cases.

There Denmark wait for the restrictions already in place for a few days to take effect. On Sunday, the town closed cinemas, theaters and concert halls and limited restaurant opening hours. The measurements should last at least four weeks. Meanwhile, 13,558 new cases were announced yesterday, at least 500 of which concern people who had already contracted the virus.