France, Sweden and Finland: the list of countries that reopen is growing

from Stefano Montefiori

Via restrictions like in the UK and Denmark. Germany, fourth dose for the weak

from our correspondent
PARIS After England, Denmark and Norwayand simultaneously with similar announcements from Italy, Sweden and Finland, France has also begun to ease restrictions against the pandemic, as planned from January 20. The infections remain numerous (over 300 thousand in 24 hours) but lower than last week, the total deaths still high (264 per day on average in the last week) but decreasing. Health authorities estimate that the situation is improving slowly but surely, the peak of the fifth wave passed.

Land outdoor masks are no longer mandatory, but only recommended when groupings are formed, for example at political rallies in the square. In stadiums and other places intended to accommodate the public, the limit on admissions is removed, which until now was 2,000 people indoors and 5,000 outdoors.

Smart workingwhich since the beginning of January in France was compulsory in offices for 3-4 days a week, now only recommended and entrusted to the consultation between the employer and employees within the company. We continue to think that smart working is an effective tool – says the Minister of Labor, Elisabeth Borne – to be modulated according to the situation in the offices. The next stage is scheduled for February 16th, when concerts and discos will be authorized again, closed from December 10th.

The management of the pandemic is one of the themes of the electoral campaign for the presidency of the Republic (votes are held on 10 and 24 April) and according to the polls, the majority of French people think that Emmanuel Macron’s work is generally positive. One of the government’s boast, having kept schools always open except in the weeks of the first lockdown in 2020, was questioned at the beginning of January due to the sharp increase in infections due to the Omicron variant, and the complex health protocol that followed. But a significant improvement in schools could come from the two weeks of winter holidays scheduled for mid-February.

Despite the contrary opinion of the WHO, which advises against repeating the boosters, yesterday Germany recommended a fourth dose within three months of the third for vulnerable people and within six months for medical personnel. In France, however, the hypothesis of a fourth dose is now ruled out, but Health Minister Olivier Veran said it could be considered after the summer.

In Sweden, the government yesterday announced the end of all restrictions still in placesuch as the closure of bars and restaurants at 11pm or the obligation to wear a mask in public transport, starting next Wednesday.

Denmark was the first country in the European Union to lift the restrictions on Tuesday, imitated a few hours later by Norway. As for Finland, yesterday the government announced the end of the limit on admissions to cultural or sporting events starting from February 14, in view of an almost total abolition of anti-Covid measures starting from March 1.

The pandemic is not over but we are in a kind of truce – said yesterday the director of the World Health Organization for Europe, Hans Kluge -, which could allow us to take control of the situation, an opportunity that we must not waste.

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