Omicron spreads global gloom over New Year’s celebrations

As omicron spreads around the globe ahead of New Year's Eve, governments are moving at different speeds to contain the scourge, with some reimposing restrictions immediately and others hesitating to spoil the party again.

Iran PressEurope: Several countries are considering more restrictions to add to the patchwork of lockdowns and other measures around Europe.

And the top US infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned on Monday that with the rise of the highly contagious Omicron, “it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

“We don’t expect things are going to turn around in a few days to a week. It likely will take much longer than that, but that’s unpredictable,” he said on ABC.

It is the unpredictability that is keeping governments second-guessing and picking widely varying strategies to beat back the pandemic.

The French government and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were assessing the latest data and the need to counter the record numbers of Covid-19 infections with more measures to keep people apart at a time when they so dearly want to be together.

In Belgium, people faced their first real test with several new measures on Monday. Shopping in large groups was banned, and movie theaters and concert halls closed at a time when countless families are on vacation together.

In Britain, there are similar creeping moves. Scotland planned to close its nightclubs on Monday. Northern Ireland and Wales did so on Sunday, though they remain open in England. Johnson, who has resisted ordering new restrictions but hasn’t ruled them out, was expected to be briefed Monday on the latest data on the spread of Omicron.

France has recorded more than 100,000 infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic, and Covid-19 hospitalizations have doubled over the past month. President Emmanuel Macron’s government scheduled emergency meetings Monday to discuss its next steps.

In Italy, the government has not mandated any rules for private gatherings but has banned outdoor events on New Year’s Eve and closed nightclubs until the end of January.

The Netherlands there has gone further than most other European countries, shutting down all nonessential stores, restaurants, bars and extending the school holidays in a partial new lockdown.


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