European leaders are renewing calls for citizens to get vaccinated and reimposing coronavirus restrictions as the more transmissible Delta variant takes hold in Europe.
“The currently observed and predicted continuing deterioration of the epidemiological situation in many countries is expected, given the rapid increase in the Delta variant,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) explained in its latest Covid-19 overview published on Friday.
In June, the ECDC warned the Delta variant would represent about 90% of Covid-19 cases in the European Union by the end of August and emphasized the importance to “progress with the vaccine rollout at a very high pace.”
Around Europe, some leaders are now reimposing measures to fight the pandemic:
- The Netherlands has reimposed restrictions on nightclubs, music festivals and restaurants because the infection rate in the country “has increased much faster than expected since society reopened almost completely on 26 June,” partly because of the Delta variant, the government said in a press release on Friday.
- With cases rising in Portugal — 1,782 new cases reported on Monday — the country has also announced new measures, re-instating curfew in some high-risk areas and requiring tourists to show a negative test or a vaccination certificate to stay in hotels. Tests or certificates will also be required to sit indoors in restaurants on Friday evenings and at the weekend in Portugal.
- Norway is delaying its reopening plan because “there is a risk that the Delta variant may cause a fourth wave,” the government said last Monday.
- In France, the government is pushing for citizens to get vaccinated. According to French Health Minister Olivier Véran, the country is “about four weeks behind the UK” in terms of the epidemiological situation and is “at the beginning of what looks like a fourth wave.” While daily new cases have been averaging 3,000, the French government fears that numbers could reach 20,000 cases per day by beginning August because of the Delta variant, Véran said on Sunday in an interview with Radio J.
- Mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers, which has been heavily debated in the country in the past few days could be on the table — a measure already in place in Italy.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce England will lift most of its final coronavirus restrictions next week— despite rising infections — due to the success of the country’s vaccination program. More than 87% of people have had a first dose and 66% have had two doses. The UK’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Monday the country could see 100,000 cases a day by the end of the summer due to the Delta variant but the government is confident the vaccine “wall” the country has built up will prevent a wave of deaths and the country’s healthcare system from being overwhelmed with hospitalizations.
The UK recorded 34,471 new cases and 6 deaths on Monday, according to the government’s dashboard.