France recorded more than 100,000 virus infections in a single day for the first time since the pandemic struck and COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled over the past month
France has recorded more than 100,000 virus infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic and COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled over the past month, as the fast-spreading omicron variant complicates the French government’s efforts to stave off a new lockdown.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government is holding emergency meetings Monday to discuss the next steps in tackling the virus. Some scientists and educators have urged delaying the post-holiday return to school, or suggested re-imposing a curfew.
But France’s education minister says schools should open as usual on Jan. 3, and other government officials are working to avoid measures that would hammer the country’s economic recovery.
In neighboring Belgium, the government imposed new measures starting Sunday that ordered cultural venues like movie theaters and concert halls to close.
Even the scientific committee advising the Belgian government had not asked for the culture industry closures, leaving virologist Marc Van Ranst to ponder that, in Belgium, “gluhwein beat culture.”
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has gone farther than most European countries and shut down all nonessential stores, restaurants and bars and extended the school holidays in a partial new lockdown.
In Britain, where the omicron variant has been dominant for days, government requirements have been largely voluntary and milder than those on the continent, but the Conservative government said it could impose new restrictions after Christmas. The U.K. hit a new high of 122,186 daily infections on Friday, but did not report figures for Christmas.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland imposed new restrictions Sunday on socializing, mainly limiting the size of gatherings, moves that the restaurant, pub and nightclub industries have described as economically devastating.