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New Year, new restrictions, but ‘milder’ variant gives hope

Organisers of international association meetings will start 2022 grappling with more restrictions as governments try to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Across the world countries are tightening rules dictating who can travel and where people can meet as the highly infectious strain of coronavirus causes a huge surge in cases.

Already a string of major meetings  – including most recently IMEX Frankfurt – have been pushed back to the summer or later in the year as organisers seek to buy some breathing space.

While the data indicates the variant is much less virulent than previous ones, governments are mindful that the spread of rapid Omicron could still wreak havoc if left unchecked.

Italy has banned outdoor events and closed nightclubs until the end of January, while unvaccinated people are now banned from museums, exhibitions, and amusement parks.

French MPs have passed a controversial vaccine pass bill, which requires people to be fully vaccinated to enjoy social, sporting and cultural activities. Until now the country’s 5 million unvaccinated citizens had been able to use a passe sanitaire (health pass) that required either vaccination, recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test o access restaurants, bars, museums, theatres and other public places.

Germany has closed its nightclubs and soccer matches and other sporting events must be held without an audience. Private gatherings are now limited to 10 people.

Unvaccinated travellers from France, Denmark – considered ‘high-risk areas’ – must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. Anyone traveling from the UK must quarantine for 14 days.

Portugal is also tightening its pandemic restrictions and will soon require a negative Covid-19 test for entry to business events. Thailand has reimposed a mandatory quarantine for all visitors, and the Netherlands is under a nationwide lockdown. Canada’s Quebec province has imposed a capacity limit on restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues, and has extended its capacity limit for private indoor gatherings.

In England, proof of vaccination or a negative test is now required for certain venues and events. Brazil now requires all travellers to be fully vaccinated to enter the country, and Austria has lifted its lockdown for vaccinated people.

Despite the new restrictions the scientific community has begun tentatively suggesting that Omicron might be the last variant of concern and could hail the virus’ transition from pandemic to endemic status.

 

Full round-up here.

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