Covid-19 restrictions grow in the world and pressure on the unvaccinated increases

One week before Christmas, the restrictions on the omicron variant of the coronavirus multiply again, with a lockdown in the Netherlands and the cancellation of parties and the closure of cultural sites in other countries, while the pressure on the unvaccinated grows.

The variant, identified a month ago in South Africa, has been detected in about 80 countries and is advancing rapidly in Europe, where it could become dominant by mid-January, according to the European Commission.

Several European countries tightened health measures as the New Year holidays approach or are about to do so.

Germany announced on Saturday that it has added the United Kingdom to the highest category of areas at risk of contagion by covid-19, which implies numerous travel restrictions.

The decision, which takes effect at midnight on Sunday (11:00 p.m. GMT), came in response to the rapid spread of the omicron variant on British soil.

Germany had already classified Denmark and France as risk areas.

Meanwhile, a lockdown will begin in the Netherlands on Sunday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Saturday. All non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, cinemas, museums and theaters must close until January 14.

In the United Kingdom, which registered a record of infections for the third consecutive day (93,045 cases), the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was "very worried" due to the spread of omicron, dominant in the British capital, and launched an alert procedure to coordinate public services.

In France, the government asked mayors to cancel concerts and fireworks scheduled for New Year’s Eve. In Paris, the cancellation of celebrations on the Champs Elysees was announced this Saturday.

In Ireland, bars and restaurants must close at 8:00 p.m. from Sunday, and the measure will continue until the end of January.

Denmark is closing for a month (from Sunday) theaters, cinemas and concert halls, as well as amusement parks and museums.

– Cancellations on Broadway –

On the American continent, Québec is going to apply limits to the number of people in bars, restaurants and shops.

In New York, which in 2020 was the global epicenter of the pandemic, Brooklyn restaurants are closing one after another due to an increase in infections.

On Broadway, the famous theater and musical district, there are scenes of panic due to the cancellation of functions due to positive cases in the cast.

In Asia, South Korea reinstated mandatory closing hours for cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other public places on Saturday, and private gatherings must be limited to four people.

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Travel restriction measures also came into effect over the weekend.

Some European Union (EU) countries, such as Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Greece, require European travelers, including those vaccinated, to present a negative test for covid-19.

Turkey will send 15 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to Africa, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday, adding that the low vaccination rates on that continent were a "shame on mankind".

– Pressure on unvaccinated –

The measures are accompanied by increasing pressures on people who are not vaccinated, which in some cases go beyond the obligation to inoculate.

In Los Angeles, all city employees, including police and firefighters, who have not received an exemption for medical or religious reasons, will be required to be vaccinated as of Saturday under penalty of being placed on administrative leave.

According to the mayor’s office, just over 43,800 of the employees, or 79% of the total, were up-to-date with their vaccinations this week.

According to NBC television, about 80% of Los Angeles police officers are vaccinated against covid-19 and more than 2,500 requested exemptions.

On Friday, a US federal court reinstated mandatory vaccination for employees of large companies, as requested by the government, after it was suspended in November by a Texas appeals court.

In Switzerland, as of Monday, only people vaccinated or recovered from the virus will have access to restaurants, cultural sites and sports and entertainment facilities, in addition to any indoor events.

A similar requirement will come into force in France at the beginning of next year, and a simple negative test will no longer suffice, as unvaccinated people have done until now.

– Vaccination of children –

Meanwhile, the vaccination for children was approved in Brazil, after starting to be applied in other countries such as Chile, Canada, the United States, Israel, Italy and Greece.

Portugal, one of the countries with the highest vaccination levels in the world, began its campaign this Saturday to immunize children between 5 and 11 years old.

About 60,000 minors, of the 640,000 in this age group, were registered to receive as of this weekend a first dose of Pfizer’s pediatric immunizer.

In France, vaccination of children should start on Wednesday, "if everything goes fine"said this Saturday the Minister of Health, Olivier Veran.

Pharmaceutical Pfizer announced on Friday that it intends to test the third dose of the vaccine in children under five years of age, which could lead the company to submit a request for authorization to apply three doses in that age group.


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