European countries tighten restrictions for unvaccinated

Slovakia will bar unvaccinated people from restaurants, shops with non-essential goods, sports activities and public events, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said Thursday.

“It is a lockdown for the unvaccinated,” Heger said in a news conference.

Slovakia’s health authorities reported a record 8,000 cases on Tuesday in the country of 5.5 million. It has few intensive care beds available and only 45% of the population is vaccinated, well below the EU average of 65%.

From Monday, when the new restrictions come into force in Slovakia, unvaccinated people will have to be tested at their workplaces in most regions.

Areas with high COVID-19 rates could also see gyms and hotels closed and restaurants return to a takeaway only service, even for the vaccinated.

Neighboring Czech Republic echoed the move as both countries experienced a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

Czech authorities will enforce the measures on Monday after cases soared to over 22,500 on Tuesday, a record for the eastern European country.

Only teenagers from the ages of 12 to 18 will be exempted from the ban on the unvaccinated at restaurants, bars, hairdressers, museums or hotels.

“The main goal of these measures is motivation for vaccinations,” Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech said. About 58% of the Czech Republic’s 10.7 million people are vaccinated.

In a similar move, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Thursday that restrictions on unvaccinated citizens would be further tightened, as infection rates remain high in the country.

Starting Monday, only vaccinated people will be allowed to enter indoor public spaces, such as cinemas, theatres, bars, tavernas, hairdressers and gyms, Mitsotakis said in a speech on state radio.

Germany’s state premiers agreed on several measures to curb the pandemic.

The new measures include the introduction of “2G” restrictions for the unvaccinated in regions where a certain hospitalization rate is exceeded. “2G” refers to a system only allowing free movement for leisure activities for the geimpft oder genesen — “vaccinated or recovered.”

In the Netherlands, the government has fallen out with medical experts who want to extend the Christmas break to stop a surge of COVID-19 infections in schools.

The country’s National Institute for Health (RIVM) reported a record number of 110,000 new cases in the week ending November 16, many of them among children aged 4 to 12.

But Education Minister Arie Slob said that with most teachers vaccinated and children only getting mild symptoms, “it is responsible to keep schools open.”

Authorities have reimposed mask wearing and forced most businesses to close by 8 p.m. in response to the pandemic threat.

All health care workers in Hungary will be required to take a third booster shot against COVID-19 from Saturday, the government said Thursday.

Hungary has also recommended everyone get a booster shot as 10,767 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the last 24 hours.

The eastern European country hardly has any restrictions in place and a vaccination rate below the European average.

The European Medicines Agency said on Thursday it expected to give its verdict on another COVID-19 therapy branded as Xevudy in two months.

The GSK-Vir Biotechnology’s COVID-19 antibody treatment already received US approval for emergency use in mild or moderate coronavirus cases.

The EMA already gave member states the go-ahead to use Xevudy, but this application would be for EU-wide approval.

Sourve: DW