Europe is considering imposing restrictions on Christmas

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Britain today refused to rule out restrictions on rallies, a day after the Netherlands imposed a fourth lockdown triggered by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, while other European countries are considering imposing measures for Christmas.

Omicron’s infections are multiplying rapidly in Europe and the United States, doubling every two to three days in London and elsewhere, and dealing a severe blow to financial markets, which fear the impact on the global economic recovery.

This variant has been found for the first time in the southern countries of the African continent and in Hong Kong and so far it has been reported in at least 89 countries. The severity of the disease it causes remains unclear.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a lockdown on Saturday, ordering the closure of all shops that do not meet basic needs, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places from yesterday, Sunday, until at least 14 January.

Twelve people in Britain have lost their lives due to the Omicron variant, Deputy Prime Minister Dominique Raab said today, refusing to rule out the tightening of social restrictions before Christmas. Health Minister Sajid Javid said yesterday that the government was closely monitoring the figures. Any decision to restrict Christmas rallies will come at a high political cost to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose power has been undermined by questions about whether he and his executives violated lockdown rules last year.

The German government’s council of experts said in a statement yesterday that it was necessary to limit social contacts, with evidence so far showing that booster doses alone are not enough to limit the spread of the virus.

Ireland announced on Friday that bars and restaurants will be closed at 8pm and that crowds at public events will be reduced. Italy is also considering new measures to avoid an increase in cases, as newspapers wrote yesterday.

Shares fell and oil prices fell more than 3% today. European and British stocks fell to a two-week low, losing 1.9% and 1.8% respectively.

Israel has added the United States to its list of countries it bans travel to, citing concerns about Omicron. US epidemiologist Anthony Fauci said Omicron was “scanning the whole world” and called on Americans to boost the vaccine.

Since the beginning of the month, the number of Covid-19 cases in the US has increased by 50%, according to a Reuters count. New York State recorded a record number of cases for the third day in a row, with more than half confirmed in New York City.

Thailand is considering reinstating compulsory quarantine for foreign visitors as the Ministry of Health reported the first case in the country of local transmission of the variant strain Omicron of the coronavirus.

More than 274.24 million cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide since the first infections were identified in China in December 2019. More than 5.65 million people have died from complications of Covid-19.

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