COVID-19 cases sweep across Europe again – here is a summary of how each country has reacted to the increase.
The measures vary across the continent, from a national lock in Austria to the United Kingdom where only light restrictions are in place.
Concerns over the new variant of Omicron discovered in South Africa have caused many European countries to put a stop to travel.
This is what the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has said EU countries should start a debate about making covid-19 vaccinations mandatory.
In November, the World Health Organization warned that Europe and Central Asia could face another 700,000 deaths in COVID-19 by 1 March.
Here is a summary of the latest situation in some of the European countries.
Austria’s lockdown has been officially extended until December 11 as planned, with signs that the measures will help bring down a sky-high infection rate for the coronavirus.
Important stores that were allowed to open until 21.00 must, however, close until 19.00 from Thursday (2 December).
The country issued the lock on Monday (November 22), and became the first EU country to take such action before the advent of Covid-19.
Conservative Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has also said that vaccination will be mandatory from February 1.
Authorities in Austria said on November 17 that travelers would need to show a negative PCR test when entering the country. Previously, results from the cheaper side flow tests were allowed.
Portugal reintroduced stricter pandemic restrictions on Wednesday to limit a new increase in infections.
Face masks have once again become mandatory and the country tightened control over its borders.
A digital certificate proving vaccination or recovery from covid-19 is required to access restaurants, cinemas and hotels.
Portugal has a high vaccination rate with about 86% of the population fully vaccinated against the virus.
Denmark registered a record number of new cases of covid-19 on Wednesday (December 1), with 5,120 new infections in the last 24 hours.
Denmark offers Covid-19 booster jobs to people over the age of 18, the health authority said on November 26, and stated that immunity was also reduced for people in younger age groups.
On 12 November, Denmark reintroduced its digital passport when it declared COVID-19 as a “socially critical disease” once again in the midst of an increasing number of cases.
Until at least mid-December, a valid passport is mandatory to enter nightclubs or cafes or to sit indoors at restaurants.
A German Supreme Court upheld measures taken by the government to address the all-time high COVID-19 infections.
The Federal Constitutional Court found that a curfew and school closures were in line with the country’s constitution.
Most recently, Germany reported 67,000 new cases and 446 deaths.
Researchers in the UK have announced that all adults should now be included in the COVID-19 booster jab campaign in the wake of the spread of the Omicron variant.
The new variant is causing concern around the world due to the high number of mutations it has, which researchers warn can have consequences not only for the ability to transmit but also for the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Wei Shen Lim, chair of a British subcommittee on vaccinations, said at a news conference on Monday that all adults aged 18-34 should now be included in the booster program.
Belgium has closed nightclubs and demanded that people work from home as part of an attempt to curb cases of covid-19. The government issued new measures on Friday (November 26) including closing bars and restaurants from 23.00.
Events held indoors must be held and private meetings, in addition to weddings and funerals, are prohibited.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Thursday (November 25) that his country had noted an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that was much worse than feared, after reintroducing tougher pandemic rules last week.
The increase exceeded “the most pessimistic curves” drawn last week by experts, he said in a statement.
A new round of restrictions went into effect over the weekend including the closure of all non-essential shops including bars and restaurants from 5pm to 5pm.
Hospitality and cultural facilities must ensure that people sit 1.5 meters apart, which “means that fewer people can be admitted to these places,” the government said.
Amateur sports events are also not allowed between 17.00 and 05.00 with professional sporting events that may continue but without spectators.
A 30-day state of emergency came into force on Friday (November 26) when the Czech Republic sees record highs of covid-19.
As part of the government’s anti-COVID measures, all Christmas markets across the country are banned and people will not be allowed to drink alcohol in public places, said Health Minister Adam Vojtech. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, discos and casinos must close at 22.00
The number of people at cultural and sporting events will be limited to 1,000 who have been vaccinated or have recovered from covid-19. All other public gatherings can be attended by up to 100 visitors, down from 1,000.
Slovakia declared a 90-day state of emergency and a two-week suspension following a summit in COVID-19 cases that saw the country’s seven-day average rise exceed 10,000.
The Central European country is currently in the midst of the world’s fastest increase in infections, and the measures, which include closing all unnecessary shops, as well as bars and restaurants, are intended to help the struggling healthcare system.
Only 45.3% of the population of 5.5 million are fully vaccinated.
France tightens its conditions for access to the country. As of Saturday (December 4), all arrivals from outside the EU will need to provide a negative covid test performed within the last 48 hours, even if they have been vaccinated.
The country reported a further 49,610 new daily cases on Wednesday (December 1), up from 47,177 the day before. The average over a week has increased by over 50%. Health Minister Olivier Véran has warned that the sanitary situation in the country is “deteriorating”.
From 15 January, all adults will need a booster job for at least seven months after being fully vaccinated to keep their health cards. From mid-December, people over the age of 65 will need one to have their health cards extended.
About 76.8% of France’s 67.4 million people are fully vaccinated, according to the latest figures.
The Italian government decided on Wednesday (November 24) to exclude unvaccinated people from certain leisure activities in an attempt to curb increasing coronavirus infections and avoid financially devastating locks.
As of December 6, only people with proof of vaccination or that they have recovered from covid-19 can eat at indoor restaurants, go to the cinema or participate in sporting events. Just having a negative test result is no longer acceptable in what was called an “enhanced” or super green workout.
A new government decree also made vaccinations mandatory for, among others, law enforcement agencies, the military and all school staff. Previously, vaccines were only required for healthcare professionals.
Twenty cities in Italy’s province of South Tyrol are facing tougher COVID-19 restrictions from Wednesday (November 24) with a curfew at 20 due to high infections and low vaccinations.
On public transport, passengers must wear an FFP2 mask or equivalent.
Coronavirus infections in Russia have begun to decline but the number of daily deaths is still high.
More than 31,000 new infections were reported on Tuesday (November 30) and around 1,195 deaths.
Cases increased in October due to low vaccination rates and lax public attitudes to taking precautionary measures. About 40% of Russia’s almost 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though the country approved a domestically developed covid-19 vaccine months before most of the world.
The Swedish government has announced that from 1 December, a health pass will be required to participate in all events with more than 100 people.
The Covid passport – which certifies that the holder has either been fully vaccinated, tested negative during the last 72 hours or recovered from the disease during the previous six months – has so far only been used in Sweden for travel purposes.
The government also changed its decision on November 1 to stop testing fully vaccinated people.
From Friday (December 3), people arriving from abroad must have a negative test result in addition to being vaccinated or recovering from covid-19. The government also began recommending face masks for children.
New covid-19 restrictions came into force in Ireland on Thursday (November 18) due to high rates of infection that have put pressure on hospitals. People were told to work from home unless it was “absolutely necessary to go to work”.
The requirement for covid-19 cards (based on vaccination or recovery) will be extended to cinemas and theaters, while the closing times for all licensed premises, including hotels, will be moved to midnight.
From December 9, unvaccinated officials and social workers will be fired, the government said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on November 16 that those who receive two stings of the vaccine will receive a payment of 1,000 hryvnia, or about 33 euros in an attempt to alleviate the reluctance to vaccinate.
The statistics on how many people received both doses vary widely, with reports claiming that it is somewhere between 20 and 28 percent.
swiss voters approved by a clear margin the so-called ‘COVID-19 law’ in a referendum on Sunday (November 28).
The legislation, which is already in force, includes a pandemic recovery package and the application of a controversial covid certificate.
As in many other European countries, this health pass only allows people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative to attend public events and gatherings.
Cases are starting to decline in Bulgaria after a massive increase in October, but the vaccination rate is still quite low at only a quarter of the population.
2,681 new cases were reported on Wednesday (December 1) and 128 deaths.
The country has 6,470 people in hospitals with covid-19 and 717 in intensive care units.
Like Bulgaria, Romania has seen a fatal increase in cases in October, but the number of cases has now dropped significantly since the beginning of the month.
Protesters gathered in Zagreb over the weekend over stricter covid restrictions after the government announced plans to introduce mandatory covid passes for state and public employees, including schoolteachers.
The nation of about four million people has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the EU, with only 53 percent of the total number getting at least one jab, and only 57 percent of the 3.3 million adults who are fully immunized.
From 15 December, persons must present a covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate in order to appear at work.
People who have not been vaccinated or who have not recovered from covid-19 are allowed in grocery stores, pharmacies and other important stores.