The Norwegian premier, Jonas Gahr Støre, said on Tuesday that from Wednesday, December 15, bars and restaurants can no longer serve alcohol and mask mandates have been extended.

“There is no doubt, the new variant really changes the rules. That’s why we need to act fast and we need to act again,” Støre said. “For many this will feel like a lockdown, if not of society then of their lives and of their livelihoods.”

A surge in coronavirus cases in Northern Europe has brought a sudden end to Denmark’s laid-back approach to health restrictions. Last week the country closed its colleges and schools and curbed nightlife, whereas just a few weeks ago there were virtually no restrictions. Three-quarters of new infections have been in people with two shots of vaccine, and as elsewhere, there is a new impetus for people to get a booster shot.

In the Netherlands, non-essential shops, restaurants and bars have been forced to close from 17:00 each day since last week.

The bad news from the north contrasts with Central Europe as new infections have fallen in Austria, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Croatia. Whether they can resist the Omicron variant remains to be seen.

FILE PHOTO: Health Pass in Denmark Reuters