Italy extends central corona restrictions such as the travel bans in the country by one month until after Easter. In addition, all schools in high-risk areas, so-called red zones, have to close. Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced in Rome. Prime Minister Mario Draghi signed a corresponding decree on Tuesday.
This means that in the first major travel season at Easter until April 6th it is forbidden to cross the borders between the 20 Italian regions. There are exceptions for work and emergencies.
Minister Speranza and several experts pointed out that the British virus variant is predominant in the Mediterranean country with well over 50 percent of the cases. It is a more contagious variant that, according to initial studies, causes severe disease more often.
Overall, the infection curve is pointing upwards, said Speranza. Since the spread of the British variant affects the younger generation, Rome has decided to tighten schools. The regulation applies from March 6th and provides that the classification into risk zones introduced in 2020 will be retained. In the red zones and with a seven-day incidence of 250 or more cases per 100,000 inhabitants, only distance teaching is then possible.
WHO believes the end of the pandemic this year is unrealistic
The World Health Organization does not expect the corona pandemic to end anytime soon. “It would be very premature and unrealistic to believe that we will be able to deal with this virus by the end of the year,” said WHO emergency aid coordinator Michael Ryan on Monday evening in Geneva. However, if acted wisely, it could “end the hospitalizations, deaths and tragedy that have come with this pandemic.”
The WHO continues to focus on keeping infections as low as possible and vaccinating as many people as possible. Compared to ten weeks ago, the situation is much better, said Ryan with a view to delivering the first vaccines against the virus. “We are still facing a major challenge,” he emphasized.
The virus still has the upper hand. Control over the pandemic could be accelerated if the vaccines start to have a significant impact on the transmission dynamics and the risk of transmission.
Trump is said to have been vaccinated shortly before he left the White House
Former US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania are said to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus before they left the White House in January. Several US media reported this on Monday, citing an unnamed Trump adviser.
In order to instill confidence in the safety of the vaccines, the new US President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and previously also ex-Vice President Mike Pence had themselves publicly vaccinated. Trump, on the other hand, linked the topic of vaccination primarily with self-promotion: He also sees it as his merit that vaccines were developed so quickly against the new virus.
In mid-December, then White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was open to vaccination and wanted to encourage Americans to do so. There are no plans to vaccinate Trump, she said at the time. Donald and Melania Trump contracted Covid-19 last fall. The ex-president therefore had to be treated in hospital. Trump’s term ended on January 20th.
Austria wants to allow outdoor catering again
In Austria, outdoor dining is allowed to reopen from March 27, subject to strict rules such as corona tests and keeping your distance. This is what Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says after talks with experts, governors and the opposition parties. Cultural institutions are allowed to reopen from April. In Vorarlberg, where the incidences are lowest nationwide, there should be opening steps in the areas of sport, culture and gastronomy as early as March 15. In addition, it was decided that youth and school sports should be possible again from mid-March.
In the EU, the states are continuing to take very different paths in the Corona crisis
While there are easing measures pending in Denmark, the measures in the Czech Republic and Norway’s capital Oslo are being tightened again. In Italy, there are both tightening and relief depending on the region. In Austria, three weeks after all shops have opened, the government decides how to proceed. The last time in the room was the restart of the catering and hotel industry before Easter. However, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) described the development in the number of new infections as a “worrying trend reversal” on Sunday.
The seven-day incidence in Austria is currently around 160. Recently, the number of new infections among younger people has increased significantly. At the weekend in Vienna, among other things, a party with 100 guests in a student dormitory was broken up by the police.
In Italy, as of Monday, many students will have to follow the lessons via the Internet. This applies, among other things, to the regions of Basilicata and Molise in southern Italy, in which there will be a lockdown from Monday. Health Minister Roberto Speranza ordered the new zoning on Saturday. The corona situation had recently worsened again. Different variants of the virus spread. The incidence value rose to 145 cases per 100,000 population for the surveyed period from February 15 to 21.
Meanwhile, the island of Sardinia will be the first Italian region to fall into the White Zone on Monday and can hope for more normality with a possible opening of gyms, among other things. Sardinia had achieved a seven-day incidence of less than 50 cases per 100,000 population for three consecutive weeks.
In the Czech Republic, a much tougher corona lockdown will apply from Monday. People are only allowed to leave their respective district for three weeks in exceptional cases. Trips to work, to the doctor and to the authorities are permitted if written evidence is provided. The size of the 77 districts corresponds to the rural districts in Germany. More than 25,000 police officers and up to 5,000 soldiers are supposed to monitor compliance with the strict measures. Failure to comply could result in fines of the equivalent of more than 400 euros. Walks and sports are even only allowed in their own town or municipality. Visiting relatives is prohibited. Only absolutely necessary shops are still allowed to open. The background to this is that the Czech Republic has the highest rate of new corona infections of all EU countries.
In Norway’s capital Oslo, all restaurants and shops are closed due to the spread of the British virus variant. The chairman of the city government, Raymond Johansen, announced on Sunday evening at a press conference. Restaurants are only allowed to offer take-away food, exceptions to the temporary business closure apply to supermarkets and pharmacies, among other things. Organized leisure activities for adults are not recommended, as is private gatherings and visits.
In Germany’s northernmost neighbor, Denmark, most retailers will be able to welcome customers into their shops again from Monday. After more than two months of closure in the fight against the spread of coronavirus, stores with an area of less than 5,000 square meters are allowed to reopen, provided they are not in a mall. Larger shops are also allowed to reopen their doors, albeit strictly limited. Customers must book a time to shop here in advance. Open-air cultural institutions such as zoos can now receive visitors again if the guests can show a negative corona test that is no more than 72 hours old. The meeting restriction for outdoor and organized sports and club activities will be increased from 5 to a maximum of 25 participants. The number of new infections in Denmark has fallen sharply since the end of 2020.
Billion injection for British economy
“We know that companies especially in the hospitality, leisure, hotel and retail sectors have been affected by the restrictions and they will still be closed for the coming weeks and will only reopen slowly (…),” said UK Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak on Sunday in an interview with the news channel Sky News. The aid package should enable companies to keep employees and pay bills, the Chancellor of the Exchequer added. Individual companies could be supported with one-off payments of up to 18,000 pounds (around 21,000 euros). Around 650,000 companies across the country are expected to benefit from this. Overall, the British government wants to help companies with an aid package worth five billion pounds (around 5.8 billion euros).
Sunak plans to present its budget for the new financial year on Wednesday. In addition to numerous reliefs, it is also expected that he will announce an increase in corporate tax. On the other hand, protests arose from the opposition at the weekend. Sunak has also felt headwinds from within its own ranks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently put forward a plan for the gradual lifting of the UK lockdown. All restrictions are to be lifted by June 21st.
Sunak also told the BBC that a corona vaccination certificate will help the country and economy recover from the aftermath of the corona pandemic. For example, major events could then possibly take place again. However, according to Sunak, it is a difficult question whether vaccinated people should be allowed more freedom than people who are not vaccinated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week announced a review of the scientific, moral and ethical issues surrounding a vaccination record.