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France halts British visitors, EU nations tighten borders as Omicron rises By Reuters

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© Reuters. People carrying face masks stroll in entrance of a Christmas tree carousel amid the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak, in Nantes, in France, December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

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By Dominique Vidalon and Aislinn Laing

PARIS (Reuters) – France imposed journey restrictions on travellers from Britain on Thursday resulting from surging COVID-19 instances there, and a number of other European nations additionally strengthened border controls on guests from different EU states.

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Plans for Christmas celebrations in Europe and plenty of nations throughout the globe have been thrown into disarray by the fast unfold of the extremely infectious Omicron variant, which emerged in Hong Kong and Southern Africa final month.

Britain on Wednesday recorded its highest variety of every day coronavirus instances because the begin of the pandemic. That prompted the French authorities to announce on Thursday that solely sure classes of travellers, together with truck drivers, can be allowed between the 2 nations. Anyone arriving from Britain must self-isolate.

“Our purpose is to restrict as a lot as attainable the unfold of Omicron throughout our territory,” French authorities spokesman Gabriel Attal mentioned. “Tourism and enterprise journey for people who find themselves not French nationals or Europeans, people who find themselves not French residents, will probably be restricted.”

British hospitals have been struggling to keep up staffing ranges resulting from folks having to isolate with COVID-19, a senior medic informed Reuters. The 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth canceled a pre-Christmas lunch along with her household as a precaution.

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Sweden mentioned it might require guests from different Nordic nations to have a vaccine cross amid a leap in new infections in current days.

Across the globe in Asia, South Korea mentioned spiraling infections meant it too would reinstate strict guidelines constraining gatherings and shutting eating places, cafes and bars early.

The new wave of infections and the return to tighter restrictions comes simply weeks earlier than the second anniversary of the emergence of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Since then greater than 5 million folks have died of COVID-19 globally and greater than 272 million instances have been reported.

Meanwhile, greater than 8.5 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to fight the illness – an effort that’s now challenged by the Omicron variant’s outburst.

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ROUND THE BLOCK

At a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, tensions arose after Italy, Portugal and Greece mentioned they’d require folks crossing their borders to have a detrimental COVID-19 check as nicely as a vaccine passport.

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins mentioned freedom of journey contained in the EU’s border-free Schengen Area should not finish.

Around Europe, vaccination booster campaigns and the administration of first doses to youngsters aged 5 to 11 generated lengthy queues that snaked round metropolis blocks as hospitals, pharmacies and clinics struggled to deal with demand.

Preliminary knowledge present vaccines are much less efficient towards Omicron, however a booster will increase safety.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty mentioned vaccinations might minimize the numbers admitted to intensive care and shorten the time spent in hospital.

Travel operators and retailers mentioned the tightening of COVID laws would hit them laborious within the run-up to Christmas.

Officials on the port of Dover (NYSE:) on the British facet of the Channel mentioned France’s new journey curbs would dampen already considerably diminished vacationer numbers.

British on-line trend retailer Boohoo issued its second revenue warning in 4 months, citing elements together with an increase in partywear return charges amid canceled Christmas events.

Weekendesk, a Spanish vacation web site, mentioned cancellations jumped 19% from the earlier week and blamed a brand new requirement for vaccine passports in Catalonia, Valencia and Andalucia.

SPORTING LIFE

The affect was additionally being felt internationally of sport, from worldwide and elite degree all the way down to grassroots.

Hundreds of newbie golf equipment in Britain throughout a spread of sports activities have cancelled weekend fixtures and closed clubhouses, regardless of there being no authorities recommendation to take action.

A fourth Premier League match of the week was cancelled on Thursday after Brentford supervisor Thomas Frank known as for all video games within the coming week to be postponed to permit golf equipment to recuperate their depleted squads.

The Swedish nationwide soccer crew cancelled a deliberate pleasant towards Finland, whereas groups and leagues within the three main North American sports activities have been attempting to keep away from cancellations after a large outbreak of constructive exams amongst gamers.

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