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COVID in Europe: Poland to make COVID jabs mandatory for some workers – Euronews

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COVID-19 cases are sweeping Europe once again — here is a breakdown of how each country has reacted to the surge.
Measures vary across the continent: from a national lockdown in Austria and moves towards mandatory vaccination in Germany, to the United Kingdom where only light restrictions are in place.
Concerns over the Omicron new variant detected in South Africa have prompted many European countries to put curbs on travel.
However, Delta remains by far the dominant force in Europe, accounting for the vast majority of new infections and putting increasing pressure on hospitals.
The World Health Organization warned in November that Europe and Central Asia could face another 700,000 COVID-19 deaths by March 1.
Here is a run-down of the latest situation in some of the European countries.
Poland will make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health workers, teachers, police, military and firefighters.
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said on Tuesday that after March 1, vaccination will be a condition for performing jobs in these sectors.
Nightclubs will close and restaurants and theatres will operate at reduced capacity from 15 December amid rising infections.
Germany’s parliament will debate a proposed vaccine mandate for hospital and care workers as the country tries to stem a wave of coronavirus infections.
Last week, the country implemented new measures that exclude those who are unvaccinated from nonessential stores, restaurants and sports and cultural venues.
At least 68.9% of Germans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, short of the government’s aim of a minimum 75% vaccination rate.
The national disease control centre on Tuesday reported 36,059 new daily cases, down from 45,753 a week ago. The seven-day infection rate stood at 432.2 new cases per 100,000 residents. Another 399 deaths in 24 hours brought Germany’s total in the pandemic to 103,520.
France will close nightclubs from Friday (December 10) for four weeks in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infections.
From 15 January, all adults will need a booster jab at least seven months after being fully vaccinated in order to keep their health passes. From mid-December, people over the age of 65 will need one to have their health passes extended.
According to figures released by the French public health agency, 12,096 COVID-19 patients were in hospital on Monday, including 2,191 in intensive care.
Some 76.8% of France’s 67.4 million people are fully vaccinated, according to the latest figures.
The Italian government on Monday (December 6) imposed new rules on those who are not vaccinated with the issuing of a “super” health pass.
Only people with proof of vaccination or of having recovered from COVID-19 can eat at indoor restaurants, go to the movies or attend sporting events.
A basic health pass, which includes the possibility of having a negative COVDI-19 test, is now required for local transport.
Denmark on Sunday (December 5) reported a worrisome increase to 183 confirmed cases of the new Omicron variant.
On Friday, Denmark had only 18 confirmed cases and 42 suspected cases of the variant, according to data from the SSI public health institute.
“There are now chains of infection where the variant is found in people who have not travelled abroad or been in contact with travellers,” said SSI chief Henrik Ullum.
Denmark is one of Europe’s leaders in sequencing COVID-19 variants, allowing it to detect cases more quickly. But this does not necessarily indicate higher rates of infection.
Several thousands of people protested government plans to make vaccination mandatory for health workers in Belgium early next year. Those who refuse vaccination would be suspended from 1 January.
Meanwhile, a protest against virus measures in Brussels ended in clashes on Sunday (December 5).
Thousands of people marched through the Belgian capital to protest tightened COVID-19 restrictions enacted by the Belgian government to counter the latest spike in cases.
The main crowd had already dispersed when about 100 protesters ran into a riot police barricade cordoning off access to the European Commission. Police used water cannons and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The protests came after Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on Friday (December 3) that kindergartens and primary schools will close a week early for the Christmas holidays. Children must wear masks from the age of six.
De Croo said 40% of intensive care beds were filled by COVID-19 patients and people were not getting the treatment they need, “a situation that cannot be tolerated”. It’s the third week in a row that restrictions have been tightened.
Austria
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Austria on Saturday (December 4) for the third consecutive weekend to protest against mandatory vaccination and other virus measures.
In Vienna, police counted 40,000 protesters. Authorities said several people were arrested for “disturbance to public order.”
Austria’s lockdown will continue until December 11 amid signs that the measures are helping to bring down a sky-high coronavirus infection rate. The unvaccinated, however, will remain locked down past that date, the government said.
Essential shops that were allowed to open until 9 pm, however, have to close by 7 pm since Thursday (December 2)
Ireland moved on Friday (December 3) to tighten restrictions, announcing that from next week nightclubs will close, and social distancing will be re-established in pubs, restaurants and hotels.
The measures will take effect on Tuesday (December 7) and run until at least January 9.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin described the risks of heading into the Christmas period without reducing social contacts as “just too high”.
Capacity in indoor and sports venues, where masks are already compulsory, will be limited to 50%. A health pass is already required for entry to leisure venues.
The measures come on top of restrictions the country announced last month due to high rates of infection that have put pressure on hospitals.
People have been told to work from home unless attending the workplace is “absolutely necessary”. Arrivals from overseas must have a negative test result in addition to being vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19.
At least 13 people in Norway’s capital were infected with the omicron coronavirus variant at a company Christmas party, officials said on Friday.
“Our working hypothesis is that at least half of the 120 participants were infected with the Omicron variant during the party,” Preben Aavitsland, a senior physician at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, told AFP.
New national and regional restrictions took effect on Friday (December 3).
The strictest measures cover Oslo and the surrounding region. They include working from home when possible, a 100-person attendance limit at private indoor events in public places or rented venues, and restaurants and bars having to register customers.
The authorities recommend the use of face masks on public transportation and in shops and shopping malls.
Anyone entering Norway must be tested within 24 hours, either at the border, at a public test station or by self-test. If a rapid test comes back positive, a traveller must take a PCR test within 24 hours.
Greek authorities approved vaccinated children aged 5 to 11 from 15 December amid a surge in COVID-19 infections.
The explosion in cases also prompted Greek lawmakers to approve mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for people over 60 in response to a surge in cases.
If they do not get the vaccine by 16 January, they risk being fined €100 for every month they remain unvaccinated.
Portugal reintroduced tighter pandemic restrictions on Wednesday (December 1) to contain a new surge in infections. Face masks have once again become mandatory and the country tightened control of 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 around 86% of its population fully vaccinated against the virus.
Several regions have introduced stricter measures for the unvaccinated ahead of the Christmas season, extending use of the COVID-19 certificate to enter public places such as bars and restaurants.
More than 80% of the Spanish population is already immunised, but fears of the Omicron variant have triggered a vaccination drive.
Since mid-November, nearly 200,000 Spaniards who were reluctant to get the vaccine at first have now finally taken the step.
Scientists in the UK have advised 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 worry around the world due to the high number of mutations it has, which scientists warn could have implications for not only transmissibility but also vaccine effectiveness.
Wei Shen Lim, chairman of a UK government sub-committee on vaccinations, said at a press briefing on Monday that all adults aged 18-34 should now be included in the booster programme.
A new round of restrictions entered into force over the last weekend of November, including the closure of all non-essential shops including bars and restaurants from 17:00 to 05:00.
Hospitality and cultural venues have to ensure people are seated 1.5m apart, which “means fewer people can be admitted to these locations,” the government said.
Amateurs sporting events are also not permitted between 17:00 and 05:00 with professional sports events allowed to proceed but with no spectator.
A 30-day state of emergency came into effect on Friday (November 26) as the Czech Republic sees record-high COVID-19 cases.
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, health minister Adam Vojtech said. Bars, restaurants, nightclubs, discotheques and casinos have to close at 10 p.m.
The number of people at culture and sports events will be limited to 1,000 who are 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 lockdown following a spike in COVID-19 cases that saw the country’s seven-day average of cases rise above 10,000.
The central European country is currently in the midst of the world’s fastest rise in infections, and the measures, which include closing all non-essential stores, as well as bars and restaurants, are meant to help the struggling healthcare system.
Just 45.3% of the 5.5 million population is fully vaccinated.
Amid low vaccination rates and poor compliance with public health measures, more regions have made COVID-19 shots mandatory for people aged 60 and over in an effort to boost vaccine uptake and keep contagion and fatalities down.
Coronavirus infections in Russia have started to fall but daily deaths remain high.
There were more than 31,000 new infections reported on Tuesday (November 30) and around 1,195 deaths.
Cases surged in October amid low vaccination rates and lax public attitudes toward taking precautions. About 40% of Russia’s nearly 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 December 1 a health pass will be required to attend any event of more than 100 people.
The COVID pass — attesting that the holder has either been fully vaccinated, tested negative over the previous 72 hours or recovered from the disease over the preceding six months — has so far only been used in Sweden for travel purposes.
The government also reversed its November 1 decision to stop testing fully vaccinated people.
From December 9, unvaccinated civil servants and social workers will be fired, the government said.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on November 16 that those who receive two jabs of the vaccine will be given a payment of 1,000 hryvnias, or about 33 euros in an attempt to alleviate vaccination reluctance.
Statistics on how many people received both doses vary greatly, with reports claiming that it stands anywhere between 20 and 28 per cent.
Switzerland has moved to scrap an obligation to quarantine upon arrival in the country from Saturday (December 4), but is to tighten its testing requirements.
Quarantine had been imposed over fears of the Omicron variant, but the move is seen as redundant as domestic transmission is already apparent. Instead, tests will be required before arrival, and again in the days afterwards.
The move is seen as an important step towards saving the winter ski season.
Swiss voters approved by a clear margin the so-called ‘COVID-19 law’ in a referendum on November 28.
The legislation, which is already in force, includes a pandemic recovery package and the application of a controversial COVID certificate.
Like in many other countries in Europe, this health pass only lets people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.
Cases are beginning to decrease in Bulgaria after a massive surge in October but the vaccination rate is still quite low at just a quarter of the population.
There were 2,681 new cases reported on Wednesday (December 1) and 128 deaths.
The country has 6,470 people hospitalised with COVID-19 and 717 in intensive care units.
Like Bulgaria, Romania has found itself in the throes of a deadly spike in cases in October, but cases have now decreased significantly since the beginning of the month.
Protesters gathered in Zagreb over the weekend over tighter COVID restrictions after the government announced plans to introduce mandatory COVID passes for government and public employees, including school teachers.
The nation of around four million people has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the European Union, with only 53 per cent of the total receiving at least one jab, and only 57 per cent of the 3.3 million adults fully immunised.
From 15 December, people must present a COVID-19 vaccination or recovery certificate in order to show up to work.
People who are not vaccinated or who have not recovered from COVID-19 are allowed in grocery shops, pharmacies and other essential shops.
Additional sources • AFP
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