Coronavirus-induced restrictions have been eased across Europe as cases, fuelled by the Omicron variant, are dipping. France’s nightclubs have reopened for the first time in three months, while Austria and Switzerland announced that they would be dropping most restrictions, including the use of Covid certificates and advice to work from home.
Groups may also play to standing audiences in concert venues in France, and customers in bars and cafes will be allowed to eat and drink while standing at the counter. Cinemagoers and train passengers have also been allowed to eat during their film or journey. France is due to drop its rule mandating face masks in indoor public spaces that require a vaccine pass, such as restaurants, cinemas and gyms, on February 28, although the obligation will remain on public transport and in shops.
In Switzerland, from Thursday, the only remaining requirements in place will be the obligation to self-isolate for five days after a positive test and the wearing of masks on public transport and in healthcare institutions. Austria plans to drop its curbs from March 5, retaining mask-wearing in essential shops, on public transport and in hospitals and other places with vulnerable groups.
Many German states have already moved to scrap rules preventing people without proof of vaccination or recovery from visiting non-essential stores. State governors are also looking at options to gradually drop most restrictions by March 20, except the use of masks on public transport and in indoor public spaces.
Health authorities in Denmark said that they, too, were considering “winding down” the country’s vaccination programme in the spring and saw no reason now to administer a booster dose to children or the fourth shot to any more residents at risk of severe Covid-19.
Covid vaccine for 5-to-11-year-old children in England
All children aged five to 11 in England will be offered a Covid vaccine, ministers have said in a long-awaited announcement while emphasising that parents would be expected to make their own decision.
The rollout, described by the health secretary, Sajid Javid, as “non-urgent”, is set to begin in April in pharmacies, GP surgeries and vaccination centres, using Pfizer/BioNTech doses. Emphasising that the decision would be left to parents, Javid said: “The NHS will prepare to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April so parents can if they want, take up the offer to increase protection against potential future waves of Covid-19 as we learn to live with this virus.”
Hong Kong battles surge in Covid cases
Hong Kong, on Wednesday, reported 4,285 new Covid-19 cases as healthcare facilities reeled under the pressure of a shortage in beds to cater to the patients. Experts say this number underestimates the severity, as positive results from rapid antigen tests are not officially recognised.
The city of 7.5 million people has confirmed about 26,000 infections since the start of the pandemic. For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, hospitals are beyond capacity, with wait times of up to eight hours at emergency rooms.
News Source: Indian Express