July 25, 2021

Faced with the rise of the pandemic, European countries are responding in dispersed order

As the number of cases increases rapidly in most European countries, as the more contagious Delta variant progresses at high speed – it could account for 90% of new cases of Covid-19 in the European Union by the end August, according to an estimate by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control – the response differs from country to country. Some, such as the Netherlands or Malta – the Maltese authorities have decided to allow entry into their territory only to fully vaccinated people, as well as the closure of language schools which host many language stays in the summer – , intensify restrictions. When others hesitate to resort to such solutions, such as Great Britain or Spain, which does not want to compromise its tourist season.

On Germany, the incidence rate remains very low: 6.2 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to figures communicated Sunday, July 11 by the Robert-Koch institute. But the contaminations curve has started to rise again in recent days and, with the majority Delta variant since Thursday, health authorities fear a rapid increase in the coming weeks.

In this context, politicians are increasingly divided. Within the government itself, some, like the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, plead for a lifting of the last restrictions when all those who wish to be vaccinated can be, ie towards the end of August, according to him. Others, on the contrary, are more vigilant, like the Minister of Justice, Christine Lambrecht, who plans a new school year with masks in the classrooms.

Pupils wear masks during summer classes at a primary school in Beckum (Germany) on July 6, 2021.

While 52% of the population eligible for vaccination received a first dose and 42% received both doses, the voices of those who advocate compulsory vaccination are very much in the minority. The government, at this point, wants to believe that the inducement will be enough to achieve collective immunity.

On Belgium, the situation is considered less worrying than in neighboring countries, even if, in one week, contaminations have increased by 82%, with some 700 cases identified and a reproduction rate of 1.3. The country, where 65% of the population has now received a first dose of vaccine and 36% two doses, however intends to tighten controls for tourists returning from red zones, with fines for airlines that break the rules. . If a few major summer festivals are still planned, the authorities believe, however, that nightlife will not resume before September, at best.

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