Europe is at a “decisive” point in dealing with its second wave of Covid-19 infections, the European Union's Health Commissioner warned, adding the actions that people take now will determine the severity of restrictions needed in the coming months.
“Today we're here to call on everyone to act decisively. It might be our last chance to prevent a repeat of last spring,” Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said at a news conference Thursday. “Moreover, autumn and winter are the time of the year for more respiratory illnesses including seasonal influenza."
Prevent severe lockdowns: Kyriakides said people should not lower their guard because “the crisis is not behind us," and cautioned against a situation where governments are forced to impose more severe lockdowns.
“(Such lockdowns) will be detrimental -- detrimental to our mental health, detrimental to our economies, detrimental to the well-being and education of our children, detrimental to our working and daily lives.”
Mental health risk: This comes as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said it’s concerned by the increase in cases across the continent, but also warns that re-imposing lockdown rules is likely to affect people’s mental health.
Changing quarantine rules: The ECDC also indicated there is scope for changing the quarantine rules for those who are exposed to the virus -- by potentially reducing the 14 day quarantine to 10 days after exposure if a person returns a negative test at that point.
Pandemic is not uniform: While there has been an increase in cases throughout Europe, the ECDC says the pandemic is not having the same affect in all countries.
In several countries the observed upsurge correlates with increased testing rates and intense transmission among individuals between 15 and 49 years of age. In such countries most detections concern mild or asymptomatic cases.”
“However, in a number of other countries, the upsurge coincides with high or increasing notification rates in older individuals and, consequently, an increased proportion of hospitalized and severe cases.”
Austria bans "after-ski" parties: The Austrian ski season will go ahead but après ski parties will be banned, the country’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says.
“Skiing, eating out, nature and enjoying the hospitality, outdoor activities, shopping -- not just in ski resorts but also in cities, a wellness vacation in Austria, culture tourism: all that will be possible this coming winter,” Kurz said at a news briefing Thursday. "What won't be possible is après ski the way we know it from the past. The risk to get infected is simply too high."
Pushback against new French restrictions: Benoît Payan, the deputy mayor of Marseille, has asked for a "10-day delay" to tough restrictions the French government will impose from Monday, following a surge in cases there.
Payan said France's second largest city had not been adequately consulted or warned about the new measures, leading to “incomprehension” and “anger” from local officials.
Renaud Muselier, president of the regional council of Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, which includes Marseille, referred to the closures as a “collective punishment” in a statement published on Twitter.