European countries bring in new Covid curbs to battle Omicron

A swathe of European countries have introduced further coronavirus restrictions to battle the Omicron wave.

Germany and Portugal were the latest two countries to introduce fresh post-Christmas restrictions in a bid to curb the new variant.

Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation’s European head, warned on Tuesday of a “storm” of Omicron on the continent which is “pushing already stretched health systems further to the brink”.

The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, announced a series of new rules from December 28, including a 10-person limit on private gatherings and the closure of nightclubs. Big sporting events will be held behind closed doors.

In Portugal, prime minister António Costa announced that from midnight on Christmas Day, working from home will be mandatory and discos and bars will be closed. The measures are set to last until January 9.

In Finland, restaurant opening hours will be curbed, with bars forced to stop serving alcohol at 9pm from Christmas Eve. They will have to close at 10pm.

From December 28, alcohol can be served only until 5pm, with bars forced to close by 6pm and restaurants by 8pm.

In Sweden, the government announced on Tuesday a limit of 50 people at private gatherings and the need for a vaccination pass for public events where there are more than 500 people. Bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve seated guests only.

In France, which has largely banned travel from Britain for non-French citizens, nightclubs were closed for four weeks earlier this month to curb infections.

In Paris, the mayor’s office announced on Saturday that the fireworks and concerts planned on the Champs-Elysées for New Year’s Eve had been cancelled.

The strictest measures have been implemented in the Netherlands, which has gone into a lockdown over Christmas. Non-essential shops, bars, gyms, hairdressers and other public venues are closed until at least January 14. Only two guests per household are allowed, and four over the holidays.

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