“Late-night disco partying. Elbow-to-elbow seating in movie theaters. Mask-free baring of faces in public, especially in Europe and North America: Bit by bit, many countries that have been hard-hit by the coronavirus are opening up and easing their tough, and often unpopular, restrictive measures aimed to fight COVID-19 even as the omicron variant — deemed less severe — has caused cases to skyrocket.
The early moves to relax such restrictions evoke a new turning point in a nearly two-year pandemic that has been full of them.
Omicron, the Geneva-based World Health Organization says, has fueled more cases — 90 million — in the world over the last 10 weeks than during all of 2020, the outbreak’s first full year. WHO acknowledges some countries can judiciously consider easing the rules if they boast high immunity rates, strong health care systems and favorable epidemiological curves.
Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, according to studies. Omicron spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.”
“Britain, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and several Nordic countries have taken steps to end or ease their COVID-19 restrictions.
Last week, England ended almost all domestic restrictions: Masks aren’t required in public and vaccine passes are no longer needed to get into events or other public venues, while the work-from-home order has been lifted. One lingering condition: Those who test positive still have to self-isolate.
On Tuesday, Norway lifted its ban on serving alcohol after 11 p.m. and the cap on private gatherings to no more than 10 people. Travelers arriving at the border no longer will be required to take a COVID-19 test before entry. People can sit elbow-to-elbow again at events with fixed seating, and sports events can take place as they did in pre-pandemic times.
“Now it’s time for us to take back our everyday life,” Norwegian Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said Tuesday. “Tonight, we scrap most measures so we can be closer to living a normal life.””
Comment: But, COVID mania still rules in the US, something like tulip madness long ago. pl