Living without social distancing. Gradually, with the decline in hospitalizations linked to the Omicron variant, the States are beginning to loosen the locks of constraints. This return to life before will thus soon be possible in Norwaywhere social distancing guidelines and the wearing of masks in crowded spaces were removed on Monday, despite a spike in infections with the Omicron variant.
“The distance meter is disappearing. We are removing the recommendation on social distancing”, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said at a press conference. However, thehe number of Covid-related hospitalizations there has increased by 40% over the past week. More than 91% of the Norwegian population received at least two doses of vaccine.
Same approach in Swedenwhere all restrictions have been lifted on February 9 despite a high number of Omicron cases, judging that vaccine protection has brought the pandemic “into a new phase”.
It’s the Denmarklifting all restrictions from the beginning of February, which holds the title of first country in the European Union to return to “life before”. Likewise, england has already dropped most restrictions.
Same relaxation Germanywhere the government announced the phasing out from March 20 most of the restrictions put in place to combat the Covid-19 epidemic, according to a project unveiled on Monday. On this date, the country could thus abolish or limit the vaccination obligations which condition access to the main places of social or cultural life. Also, as of March 4, the restrictions in restaurants and hotels should disappear and clubs and discos should be able to reopen for people vaccinated, cured or tested.
Relief in sight also in Czech republic or in Israelone of the first countries to have introduced the health pass and which could abandon this famous “tav yaroq“, “green pass” in Hebrew, in cafes, bars, gyms or hotels.
In Italywhere more than 88% of over-12s are vaccinated, the Council of Ministers decided to end distance learning for vaccinated or recovered students, and reopened the country to visitors with a negative test.
In Franceafter a relaxation of the protocol in schools and the end of wearing a mask in certain closed places, a new salvo of restrictions must disappear this Wednesday with the reopening of nightclubs or the authorization of standing concerts and consumption at the counter in bars.
The gradual reopening of borders… for vaccinated people
On the travel side, which have seen entry and exit conditions become more complex during the pandemic, countries that were once closed are also starting to relax. After imposing some of the strictest entry restrictions in the world, australia will reopen its borders to all fully vaccinated and visa-holding travelers on February 21. This is also the case of the Thailandthe Philippinesthe Cambodia which have started to reopen their borders to foreign tourists.
Likewise, the Vietnam will lift coronavirus-related restrictions on international flights for fully vaccinated passengers from Tuesday, the country’s aviation authority announced. Anyone wishing to enter Vietnam must be fully vaccinated and must observe a three-day quarantine, either at home or in a hotel.
In New Zealandanother country with draconian anti-Covid regulations, the relentless quarantine system will be gradually eased from February 27 but the country will not fully reopen before October.
Asia remains strict
Conversely, unlike Europe and the United States, tourists and business travelers still do not have the right to travel to certain countries, such as Chinathe Japan and Hong Kongwhere mandatory quarantines remain in effect.
“When restrictions were eased in North America and Europe, we saw a very, very strong recovery”said Anand Stanley, head of the Asia-Pacific region for Airbus, whose activity has been strongly impacted.
“Asia must move in this direction. We still have quarantines, border closures. These (measures) must be lifted to restore freedom of movement and a return of demand”.
Protests don’t let up
However, these lifting of restrictions do not completely appease the anti-vaccination and anti-restrictions movements that are emerging around the world through the “Freedom Convoys”, launched by truck drivers in Canada. .
The Canadian protest movement, which is entering its third week, started with truckers protesting against the obligation to be vaccinated to cross the border between Canada and the United States. But the demands extended to a refusal of all health measures.
In Australia, thousands of demonstrators also marched on Saturday in the capital Canberra towards Parliament to denounce the vaccination obligation. Vaccination is not compulsory but is required to enter the country and to work in a series of professions considered to be at risk, such as caring for the elderly. The country has a double vaccination rate of 94% among those over 16 years old.
Some Australian states, such as New South Wales, have started to relax rules on proof of vaccination for entry into pubs, restaurants or shops.
The protest has inspired other similar initiatives around the world. In France, some 1,300 vehicles participating in anti-pass convoys from all over France stopped on Sunday evening near Lille (north), before a rally scheduled for Monday in Brussels, despite the ban on the Belgian authorities.
An anti-vaccination pass rally also continued for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday in front of the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington, where demonstrators and police faced each other in the rain, without confrontation.
As a reminder, the pandemic has officially killed more than 5,807,938 people. in the world since the end of December 2019, according to a report established by AFP on Sunday. The United States is the country with the most deaths (919,640), ahead of Brazil (638,362) and India (508,665). The WHO estimates, taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, that the toll of the pandemic could be two to three times higher than that officially established.