Several European nations announced varying degrees of lockdown during the last week, with the most severe in Austria. Initially the country wanted to address its very poor vaccination rate by confining only those who hadn’t been jabbed, but the subsequent outcry led to a full lockdown, without differentiation from Monday, November 22. Most schools will stay open. The country has also announced compulsory inoculation from February 1.
Neighbouring countries the Czech Republic and Slovakia may follow suit as case numbers soar, while in Germany there is huge pressure from the medical community for a tough response now to forestall a lockdown at Christmas. On Friday came news that Bavaria has banned its traditional Christmas markets.
The UK seems determined to brazen out high case numbers and a stubbornly high death rate, although there have been hints from ministers that ‘nothing is ruled out.’
France, meanwhile, is saying that its high vaccination figures provide sufficient protection to avoid a new lockdown, a move that would be an electoral gamble for outgoing president Emmanuel Macron, facing an election next April.
Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States are all dealing with deteriorating situations.
In Monaco there has been a sharp increase in infections in recent days, and the next health announcements from the Government are likely to be a further tightening of restrictions on top of changes due to come into force on December 1, such as the lower limit on attendance at public events, down from 1,000 to 300.
Across Europe governments are trying to keep the festive season alive, but the longer they wait the less likely it is that new restrictions will have the needed impact in time.
The continent is now looking forward to a blighted Christmas.
In the meantime, a bicycle was overturned and warning shots were fired by police in Rotterdam on Friday evening as a protest against restrictions turned violent.
FILE PHOTO: Dale Jones, Bavarian News