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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Europe tightens restrictions in response to wave of new coronavirus infections

Angela Merkel said that anyone in Germany who has not been vaccinated for Covid-19 must show a negative test result before going to work because the authorities are busy responding to the surge of new coronavirus infections.

The German Chancellor said: “We are in the middle of the fourth wave, trying to cope with the high infection rate in Germany,” he added, adding that “the exponential growth of new infections must be curbed.”

Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states met on Thursday as the country’s new infections hit a record high. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s main public health agency, the number of new cases in the past 24 hours is 65,371.

“The situation is very dramatic, and the problem now is to act quickly, or to act in concert and better monitor,” she said.

The leaders agreed to introduce a new incremental restriction system related to the number of hospitalizations.

Germany is one of several European countries that are introducing new restrictions to combat the fourth wave of infections. In Austria, after the states of Upper Austria and Salzburg ordered all residents to stay at home, regardless of their vaccination status, the federal government is under pressure to implement a nationwide lockdown.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic both recorded the worst daily number of infections since the pandemic began on Wednesday, and new measures were instituted on Thursday. Belgium has implemented a four-day work-from-home rule, which will take effect next week.

The governor of Upper Austria, Thomas Stelzer, urged the federal government to implement these measures, including the closure of non-essential stores and entertainment venues across the country.

“Our room for maneuver is very, very small,” he said on Thursday. “If there is no comprehensive federal lockdown by Monday, then we will continue to implement a lockdown in Upper Austria and the neighboring state of Salzburg for several weeks.”

The governors of the states will meet with the federal government on Friday to discuss proposals for a national lockdown. The leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said she supports the plan.

Many people believe that in order for the winter sports season to proceed relatively normally from December, a short-term lockdown is the best option. Skiing and snowboarding attract approximately 600,000 tourists to Austria each year. According to the Dutch bank ING, in winter, sports account for up to 4% of GDP.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Austria recorded an average of 136 new Covid-19 cases for every 100,000 residents in 7 days on Wednesday, which is one of the countries with the highest incidence in Europe. A day ago, it set a new high of 15,609 new cases per day. The country imposes a controversial lockdown on people who have not been vaccinated, and imposes severe financial penalties on those who violate the rules.

The chart shows that the number of cases in multiple countries has reached a record high, and more serious indicators are also moving in the same direction

Despite being widely available, about a quarter of Austrians over the age of 12 have not yet received any dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. There are widespread doubts about the vaccine’s effectiveness and opposition to its mandatory management in Austria and other European countries.

Slovak Prime Minister Edward Hegel stated that he will implement a three-week “unvaccinated blockade” from Monday. Only people who have been vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus in the past six months can enter non-essential shops, restaurants, sports facilities and public gatherings.

The Czech Republic announced similar measures to prohibit unvaccinated people who have not contracted Covid-19 in the past six months from entering restaurants and public gatherings.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the average number of new cases per 100,000 people in Slovakia and the Czech Republic is 116 and 115 in 7 days, respectively. The vaccination rates in these two countries are lower than the EU average, with only 58% of Czechs and 43% of Slovaks fully vaccinated.

The graph shows that the number of Covid cases and deaths is rising rapidly in most of Europe, prompting governments to re-impose restrictions

In Belgium, employees must work from home four days a week until December 12, when the requirement will be relaxed to three days.

“We are taking measures that everyone can follow so that we can avoid another lockdown,” the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said when announcing these measures late on Wednesday, which also included indoor and It is mandatory to wear masks in crowded outdoor spaces.

Although 75% of the population is vaccinated, the infection rate and hospitalization rate in Belgium have been steadily increasing. The country’s goal is to complete its booster campaign by March or April next year.

Additional reporting by John Byrne-Murdoch

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