Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Omicron spoils the holidays in several southern European countries

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, December 23rd 2021 à 17:20 | Read 289 times

SOUTHERN EUROPE. On Thursday 23 December 2021, last minute decisions were taken in several southern European countries to try to curb the development of the Covid-19 Omicron variant during the festive season.

Italy had already decided on 15 December 2021, with effect from 16 December 2021, to tighten the conditions for entry into its territory at least until 31 December 2021. Some regions are applying even more restrictive additional measures, such as Puglia (online registration before departure to that destination), Campania and most large cities (wearing a mask outside is mandatory in crowded places) and some municipalities in Sicily (rapid test on arrival).

On Thursday 23 December 2021, the Italian government announced the obligation to wear a surgical mask outdoors throughout the country. In addition, the FFP2 mask (of higher protection) will be required at sporting events, in cinemas, theatres and even on public transport. All festivities with large crowds, such as New Year's concerts, are cancelled until the end of January 2022.

Night-time curfew in Catalonia

Night-time strolls in festive Barcelona are now prohibited (photo: F.Matéo)
Night-time strolls in festive Barcelona are now prohibited (photo: F.Matéo)
The principality of San Marino now asks its visitors to send an email before crossing its border. In San Marino, masks are compulsory on transport and in public places, and in any place outside where the one metre distance cannot be observed. Gatherings of groups of more than ten people are forbidden outside if this last condition is not met.

Very recently, Spain has again imposed the wearing of masks outdoors throughout the country. With the exception of sports and natural areas (mountains and beaches). People who are alone or surrounded by people living in their homes are also exempted.

On Thursday 23 December 2021, one of the country's regions, and not the least, Catalonia, obtained from the courts the introduction of a night-time curfew over a large part of its territory. Its executive had asked the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) to validate measures affecting fundamental freedoms such as the closure of discotheques, the limitation of private meetings to a maximum of ten people and, therefore, the ban on leaving the house from 1am to 6am in all towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants where the incidence exceeds 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days. This concerns all of them. In this most populated region of the country and the most touristy in Spain, these bans will apply from the evening of Thursday 23 December 2021 for a minimum period of fifteen days.


​FFP or two masks in Greece at the supermarket

Greece is following suit. On Thursday 23 December 2021, the Greek Ministry of Health decreed a ban on public Christmas and New Year's celebrations and the mandatory use of masks indoors and outdoors until 2 January 2022. On the other hand, from the morning of Friday 24 December 2021, Greeks will have to wear two masks on top of each other or a FFP2 mask when going to supermarkets or using public transport. At the beginning of January 2022, another set of measures is expected to be announced, including restrictions on participation in sports and entertainment events. The aim is to avoid recontamination, says Health Minister Thanos Plevris.

In France, a Council of Ministers meeting is scheduled for Monday 27 December 2021 to draw up a bill to transform the health pass into a vaccination pass. The strategy is still to force the hand of those who do not want to receive the vaccine or the third dose. The words of Gabriel Attal, government spokesman, also foreshadow the arrival of new protective measures against Covid-19. "The epidemic situation is critical (...) The epidemic is likely to take off again under the effect of the Omicron variant which is circulating at a phenomenal speed throughout Europe, with the number of cases doubling every two or three days," he said.

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