Europeans on Saturday faced the frustration of last-minute travel as the UK and France reviewed COVID-19 border restrictions to combat growing infections that threaten plans to return to normalcy.
The first case of COVID-19 at the Tokyo Olympics, less than a week before the event began, highlighted the challenge of charting a return to pre-pandemic lifestyles.
Organizers have described the Games as “the most restrictive sporting event … in the world,” but many are concerned about the health risks involved in hosting thousands of athletes and officials.
Britain is also facing a backlash against its decision to exempt France from its new looser entry policies: vacant UK residents who return vaccinated will have to quarantine for ten days, as opposed to other “amber” countries.
“I’m a doctor, so I understand the health problems very well, but that makes no sense, ”said Maud Lemoine, a London-based doctor who visits France.
And France had a fit of rage after the government announced that unvaccinated visitors from Britain and several other European countries should show a negative COVID test conducted within 24 hours of departure instead of 48 or 72 hours, as was the case before.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered across France on Saturday to protest the government’s management of the pandemic and the continued restriction on daily life.
“It’s not that we think the Earth is flat, but we don’t know the long-term effects of these hastily paved vaccines,” Assistant Assistant Rita, 39, said on a march in the city of Montpellier .
Elsewhere in Europe, Greek officials imposed curfews on the island of Mykonos party and Spanish authorities did the same in Barcelona and other cities in the northeast of the region of Catalonia.
European governments are facing a tough battle, with the EU disease prevention agency warning that infections could multiply by five across the bloc on 1 August.
This occurs even when leaders celebrated the launch of vaccines.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said his country had reached the “milestone” of 50 million doses and promised that half the population would be fully vaccinated next week.
In Britain, where most of the adult population now it has had two blows, the government is preparing to ease most of the restrictions on its citizens.
Quarantine for vaccinated Britons returning from countries on the “amber” list will have to end on Monday, but at the last minute the government decided to maintain the status quo of France due to the “persistent presence” of the beta variant, first identified in South Africa.
Although for now the rule only applies to England, decentralized governments in Scotland and Wales indicated that they are likely to follow suit.
The new loosest regime in England, with requirements to put masks among the rules to be abandoned, comes when on Friday the UK registered more than 50,000 cases and the government said the rate could double in the next few weeks.
However, officials said the high vaccination rate should prevent an increase in deaths and serious illnesses.
Among those who tested positive was Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who announced on Saturday that he had contracted the disease and was isolating it.
“I am grateful to have had two shots of the vaccine. And so far, my symptoms are very mild,” Javid said via Twitter.
More than two-thirds of UK adults are fully vaccinated, but with cases on the rise, critics say the government is making a reckless bet.
“This is a threat not only to England, but to the whole world, particularly low and middle-income countries who have very limited access to vaccines, “a group of international scientists said in a joint statement on Friday.
Saudi Arabia also allows crowds to gather for the second reduced hajj since the start of the pandemic.
The kingdom allows only 60,000 fully vaccinated residents to participate – a fraction of the pre-pandemic number – as it seeks to repeat last year’s success that did not cause any virus outbreaks during the five-day ritual.
Among those chosen this year was Ameen, a 58-year-old Indian oil contractor who was chosen for the ritual along with his wife and three adult children.
“We’re very happy,” Ameen said. “Many of our friends and relatives were rejected.”
© 2021 AFP
Citation: Europeans face travel problems when Covid arrives at the Olympic Village (2021, July 17), recovered on July 17, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-europeans-woes -covid-olympic-village.html
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