Despite Omicron’s Spread, Europe Holds Off on ‘Canceling’ Christmas

Despite Omicron’s Spread, Europe Holds Off on ‘Canceling’ Christmas
People wearing facemasks to curb the spread of coronavirus walk at the Mayor square in downtown Madrid, Spain, Dec. 21, 2021 (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced yesterday that theaters and cinemas in the country will close, while stopping short of imposing a  full lockdown, as is now the case in neighboring Netherlands

Last week’s announcement of the full lockdown by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, just days after he clinched a deal to form a new government, came as a surprise to observers, given that the country generally adopted a more relaxed response in the early phases of the pandemic than its neighbors. Now it is the only country in Europe so far to have locked down in response to concerns over the omicron variant, even as overall COVID-19 cases in The Netherlands have been falling for two weeks.

Most European countries appear to be adopting a “wait and see” approach until more information comes in about the new variant in the first few weeks of 2022. In the meantime, they are following Belgium’s lead by implementing some light restrictions. Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, told the country this week that he was “calling on all our critical infrastructure organizations—above all the fire brigade, police, rescue services and hospitals—to activate their pandemic plans so that they can keep their core services running.” He has agreed with German state governors to impose some restrictions on social contacts over the New Year’s holiday, with gatherings limited to no more than 10 vaccinated people.

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