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European countries impose travel curbs to slow Omicron’s spread

European countries are tightening restrictions to cut back the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant after the Netherlands reimposed a strict nationwide lockdown on Saturday.

Germany set new entry necessities for individuals from the UK and a number of other different European countries, with Berlin on Sunday designating the UK a “virus variant region”, triggering the nation’s hardest travel laws.

As of Monday, solely German residents, residents and transit passengers will probably be allowed to enter Germany from the UK. Those getting into the nation will probably be required to quarantine for 14 days, no matter their vaccination standing.

New travel restrictions had been additionally launched for arrivals from Denmark, France and Norway. New arrivals should quarantine for at the least 5 days if they aren’t vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

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Omicron is much extra infectious than earlier strains and will be caught by those that are double vaccinated.

Covid-19 infections have additionally spiked in America over the previous week: each New York State and the District of Columbia have reported successive days of document instances. On Sunday President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser warned of mounting “stress” on the US hospital system as new instances begin “raging” via America and the world.

“Our hospitals, if things look like they’re looking now, in the next week or two, are going to be very stressed with people,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, instructed ABC on Sunday.

Austria, which is simply rising from a nationwide lockdown, mentioned it could permit entry solely to vaccinated travellers from Monday. Those who had not acquired a booster shot could be required to take a check so as to enter the nation.

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The Dutch authorities has closed all bars, non-essential outlets, hospitality venues, cinemas and gymnasiums till at the least January 14. Professional sports activities occasions will happen with out crowds and households can invite a most of 4 company through the Christmas interval, to be decreased to two after the vacations.

While no nation has but gone so far as the Netherlands, all are beneath stress from scientists to act. Ireland is introducing an 8pm curfew for pubs and eating places from Monday after the federal government rowed again from suggestions from well being specialists to order hospitality venues to shut at 5pm.

Public well being officers warned of as many as 20,000 infections per day and, within the worst-case situation, up to 2,000 individuals in hospital and 400 requiring important care.

“The level of social contact over the next three weeks is key,” Philip Nolan, who heads epidemiological modelling for the scientific group advising the federal government, wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “The difference between a 10 per cent reduction in effective social contact and what we had in Christmas 2020 could double the number of infections.”

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Italy’s well being ministry this weekend instructed areas to strengthen planning measures to handle the present part of the epidemic and a possible surge in hospitalisations.

Campania, the area that accommodates Naples and the Amalfi coast, banned indoor gatherings together with youngsters’s events.

UK well being minister Sajid Javid mentioned he may give no ensures that he wouldn’t order a pre-Christmas lockdown.

People protest against coronavirus restrictions Protests in opposition to restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic had been staged in a variety of European countries © Leonhard Simon/Getty

Spain and Portugal, the place vaccination ranges are among the many highest in Europe, warned that they could have to tighten restrictions because the Omicron variant spreads.

Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, has known as a unprecedented on-line assembly of regional authorities heads on Wednesday to assess the potential introduction of extra restrictive measures.

In a televised handle on Sunday, he mentioned the fast spread of Covid-19 infections posed “a real risk”, however famous that, regardless of larger every day an infection charges, the variety of Covid-19 sufferers being hospitalised was decrease than a yr in the past, earlier than vaccination started.

Belgium will take into account attainable new measures on Wednesday.

France has banned vacationer and enterprise travel from the UK from Saturday with exceptions for French nationals and residents and people with important causes.

There had been protests in a number of countries. More than 25,000 individuals demonstrated throughout France on Saturday in additional than 100 protests in opposition to vaccine necessities and different restrictions associated to the pandemic, the police mentioned. It was the twenty third weekend working of such protests.

In Germany, there have been demonstrations in cities together with Hamburg, Nuremberg and Cottbus, with some turning violent. The demonstrators raised placards saying: “Thinking mandate instead of vaccine mandate,” a reference to a push by the brand new German authorities to go a regulation requiring vaccination subsequent yr.

Additional reporting by Jude Webber in Dublin, Victor Mallet in Paris, Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli in Milan, James Politi in Washington and Peter Wise in Lisbon

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