Tag Archives: COVID19

MEPs support ongoing Digital Certificate

Brussels 29.04.2022 The Civil Liberties Committee endorsed proposals to keep the EU Digital COVID Certificate framework in place for another year.

To ensure that EU citizens can benefit from their right to free movement regardless of the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs approved two reports to prolong the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) scheme -set to expire on 30 June- for another 12 months. The reports were adopted with 48 in favour, 16 against and 0 abstaining.

Along with extending the validity of the EUDCC scheme until 30 June 2023, the changes also enable member states to grant test certificates based on new types of antigen assay tests.

MEPs amended the proposals to stress that member states should avoid additional restrictions on the freedom of movement for EUDCC holders, unless absolutely necessary. If restrictions are needed, they should be limited and proportionate, based on the latest scientific advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the EU Health Security Committee.

They also ask the Commission to assess if the EUDCC scheme is necessary and proportionate six months after its extension. MEPs want to shorten the period of application of the Regulation as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

The creation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) was adopted In June 2021 to facilitate free movement in Europe during the pandemic, for a limited period of 12 months.
Rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “A year ago, we put in place the EU Digital COVID certificate so that unilateral national restrictions would not endanger the right to free movement and equality. We wanted to prevent discrimination between countries of origin, and we wanted this regulation to be time-limited. However, we can only get rid of it once the pandemic is over.

Since it is not over yet, we are extending the validity of the scheme, and asking experts to evaluate the situation in six months’ time. Now, people are again travelling across borders in Europe, which shows that the regulation is working.”
The decision of the Civil Liberties Committee to open negotiations with the Council on the legislative proposal will be announced at the opening of next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg. If there is an objection, the decision will be put to the vote on Thursday, 5 May.

MEP Terhes calls for Trudeau regime isolation

Brussels 19.02.2022 “Justin Trudeau and his federal government must be isolated by the democratic international community to show revulsion at his tyrannical actions in Canada against peaceful protesters, who have been trampled under horse hoof as children have been batoned by federal security agents. Such scenes are reminiscent of China, whose government he wants to imitate, not to Western democracies”, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Cristian Terhes said.

“I stand with the Canadians in their fight for liberty” MEP Cristian Terhes (ECR, Romania) continued, while reacting upon dramatic events in Ottawa, Canada, where Convoy for Freedom protesters where trampled with police horsemen, who were implementing the Emergencies Act (martial law) invoked by Prime minister Justin Trudeau, who was eager to switch to repressions of critics of his COVID-19 policies. The first three major incidents Friday, February 18, under a form of martial law, were atrocious.

Video of Toronto Police Mounted Unit officers charging into the crowd and at least one horse trampling multiple people — including an elderly woman with a walker — were disturbing scenes, which shocked many by aggression and violence. There was not the only troubling incident, but another scene was exposing a protester behind a police line repeatedly being smashed with an officer’s rifle.

The Convoy organizer Benjamin Dichter also told the Toronto Sun “one of drivers had his truck windows smashed by Ottawa Police (with) guns drawn and (he was) dragged out of his vehicle by force.”

“Trudeau and his federal government must be treated like a pariah to show that the suspension of civil liberties and violence on peaceful protesters is never acceptable” Terhes underlined.

Previously, during the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg MEP Terhes strongly criticised Trudeau government for the dictatorial policies of COVID-19 sanitary measures, contrary to the values of the Western democracies.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal), has already commented on possible incidents: “Of course I’m concerned,” Trudeau said to the Canadian Press on January 28. “A number of people are there without wanting to incite violence, but there are going to be, as we’ve heard, a small group of people in there who are posing a threat to themselves, to each other, to Canadians.”

Trudeau has not expressed any regrets about the dramatic incidents with horsemen trampling peaceful protesters. On Prime minster Twitter micro blog page demagogic declarations about human rights have been posted: “We’ll continue to make sure municipal, provincial, and federal authorities have the resources they need, and do whatever is needed to keep people safe and get the situation under control – and we’ll make sure your rights and freedoms are protected. That remains our top priority”. The absence of any comments on tragic events with cavalry police unit shows there were no incidents, but part of crack down of the critics of Trudeau regime.

Japan considers sanitary regime

Brussels 06.02.2022 Japan plans to decide whether to extend a COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency in Tokyo and 12 prefectures in the first half of this week, government sources said Sunday, February 6.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida affirmed the plan during talks with health minister Shigeyuki Goto and related ministers, the sources said, as the Tokyo metropolitan government reported 17,526 daily coronavirus cases in the capital, the highest tally for a Sunday.

Kishida instructed Noriko Horiuchi, minister in charge of promoting vaccine rollouts, to speed up administering third shots to cope with the new wave of infections spurred by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The government is considering extending the quasi-state of emergency in Tokyo and 12 prefectures by two weeks or to the end of the month from the original end date of February 13.

The 12 prefectures are Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, which border the capital, as well as Gunma, Niigata, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Kagawa, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Miyazaki.

If any of the 13 local authorities do not wish to extend the emergency, the government will respect such intent.

Quasi-emergency measures involve restricting business hours of restaurants and bars, as well as a request to refrain from nonessential travel between prefectures in an effort to reduce strain on the medical system.

UK: #PartyGate allegations mount

Brussels 25.01.2022 British police will investigate alleged lockdown breaches at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street residence after receiving evidence from an internal government probe into a series of gatherings.

Boris Johnson has entered a crucial week for his premiership, ahead of a report over alleged parties at Downing Street during lockdown.

Civil servant Sue Gray is expected to publish her findings this week – although the date is not confirmed.

Ms Gray – who is currently a permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office – is investigating a series of allegations about lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street.

Her report is “the biggest threat” to Mr Johnson’s premiership on what is expected to be a significant week for his government, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg says.

She says many MPs see Ms Gray’s report as the crucial piece of evidence that will help them make up their mind about whether it is time to end Mr Johnson’s leadership.

The prime minister is reported to be determined to hang on to his position – believing he has done nothing wrong.

So far six Conservative MPs have publicly declared no confidence in Mr Johnson.

But more are thought to have submitted letters to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, who organises Tory leadership contests.

If 54 letters are submitted a no confidence vote is triggered which could result in a leadership election.

Macron stands by his threats to non-vax

Brussels 07.01.2022 French President Emmanuel Macron said he stood by his earlier comments saying he wanted to “piss off” the five million French people who are still not vaccinated against COVID-19, adding it was his responsibility to sound the alarm given the Omicron threat.

“I stand by my earlier comments,” said Macron, while he has been hosting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her trip to Paris.

Macron added it was the authorities’ obligation to place restrictions against those who are not vaccinated, to protect the more than 90% of French citizens who are vaccinated.

France is reporting more than 200,000 daily new COVID-19 cases on average, an all-time record, due to the high contagiousness of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. According to the source SOS Medicine France there are three persons per 100 000 inhabitants per week, who are hospitalised in critical condition, the overall cases have been reduced to 33 persons per week per 100 000 inhabitants.

Dutch police use attack dogs

Brussels 02.01.2022 Riot police with batons and shields broke up a crowd of several thousand who had gathered in Amsterdam on Sunday, December 2, to protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures and ongoing vaccinations with six doses in view.

Public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under restrictions in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant of the coronavirus overwhelming of the healthcare system, indicating that the previous measures of mass vaccination of the population were not effective.

At least 30 people were detained after scuffles, during which four officers were injured, police said in a statement. However there was no explanation why attack dogs were used against demonstrators.

Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema issued an emergency ordinance, instructing police to clear the central Museum Square, after the thousands of protesters defied a ban on public gatherings.

The Netherlands went into a lockdown abruptly on December 19, with the government ordering the closure of all restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places until at least January 14, with exception of the essential stores.

Under the new sanitary rules, only two people may meet outdoors, with an exception for burials, but no travel restrictions were imposed.

Global: 4,5K flights cancelled

Brussels 25.12.2021 Global Christmas travel suffered with over 2,100 flights canceled amid surging COVID-19 cases. United Airlines canceled 177 flights and Delta canceled 150 flights on Christmas Eve due to shortage of staff.

Dozens of flights across Australia have been cancelled, with thousands of airline staff being forced into isolation.

Over 4,500 flights have been cancelled around the world in the past two days and thousands more were delayed as the highly infectious #Omicron variant disrupted holiday travel, according to tracking website #FlightAware:

Additional holiday travel restrictions

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna van Densky The Omicron variant is “in the process of becoming or has already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom” according to the World Health Organisation, which is supposed to lead to an increase in the number of patients in need of hospiatlisation.

Sweden announced a restriction of the conditions of entry into its territory for travellers from other countries of the European Union, who will have from December 28 to present a negative Covid-19 test, even if they are vaccinated. However, children under 12 and travellers of Swedish nationality or residing in Sweden are not obliged to comply with this rule.

Seven other EU member states – Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Greece and Austria – already require a negative test, even for those vaccinated from the EU, and Finland announced on Tuesday evening that she was going to do the same.

Thousands of travellers have cancelled their Christmas travel plans due to the spread of the Omicron virus worldwide, and in particular, forced by the travel restrictions imposed by the governments in a bid to halt the spread of the new COVID-19 virus variant.

Just in days before Christmas, Europe has been stepping up restrictions to cope with in upcoming surge of the Omicron variant. A variant “in the process of becoming or already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom”, according to the WHO, and whose very high contagiousness could have serious consequences on the collective level – the outbreak of contaminations automatically leading to an increase in the number of hospitalised patients.

Travel within the European Union: the validity of the vaccination certificate limited to nine months. The validity of a European Covid digital certificate, when it concerns the vaccination of its holder for intra-EU travel, has been limited to nine months (270 days), the European Commission confirmed on Tuesday December 21, while vaccination campaigns are continuing in the EU for the booster dose.

This provision aims to harmonise the various rules in force in the Member States. The validity period adopted takes into account the guidelines of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), according to which booster doses are recommended no later than six months after the end of the first cycle of vaccination. The certificate will remain valid for a grace period of three additional months, in order to allow the adaptation of national vaccination campaigns and citizens’ access to booster doses.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders defended this harmonisation, while several countries already require a PCR test when entering their territory, even for an intra-EU traveller who has already been vaccinated.

“Unilateral action in member states would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties we experienced last spring. The nine-month acceptance period for vaccination certificates will give citizens and businesses the certainty they need to plan their trips with confidence. It is now up to the member states to ensure that the reminders are deployed quickly to protect our health and ensure the safety of travel “, commented the Belgian commissioner, quoted in a statement.

Persecution of Christians at rise

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna Van Densky Global persecution of Christians has massively increased throughout the pandemic, according to various human rights monitor groups. Intolerance and massacre of Christians in countries like Nigeria or India has only led to more political outcry. Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed on grounds of their faith. And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted.(Image: illustration).

The 2021 World Watch List (WWL) report, the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for following the word of Jesus Christ.

However the process of the persecution of Christians has spread viral, and causing the UK to become one of the ‘most intolerant’ countries in Europe towards Christians. That’s the extraordinary claim of a report published this week by Observatory of Intolerance Against Christians in Europe (OIACE).

The report identifies the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden as the top five countries driving what it describes as a “rising phenomenon” against Christians.

Last year, 45 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels on Open Doors’s 84-question matrix. This year, for the first time in 29 years of tracking, all 50 qualified—as did four more nations that fell just outside the cutoff.

Open Doors identified three main trends driving last year’s increase:
“COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.”
“Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.”
“Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.”

Open Doors has monitored Christian persecution worldwide since 1992. North Korea has ranked No. 1 for 20 years, since 2002 when the watch list began.

The cruel treatment of Christians minorities are common in countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, China, and Nigeria, and they deserve serious political consideration. This year’s #RedWednesday campaign did a meaningful job of highlighting the persecution faced by millions of Christians, not least the Chrisitan girls and women living under the constant threat of abduction, sexual violence and forced conversion.

Champagne sales record year

Brussels 11.12.2021 The outlook for the key Christmas and New Year festive season, however, is clouded by uncertainty over the recently detected Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but Champagne sales are expected to mark a record year as shops and restaurants replenish stocks after months of virus-related restrictions and as retail demand surges, an industry body said Friday, December 10.

Jean-Marie Barillere, co-president of the CIVC Champagne industry association and president of the Champagne brand group UMP, told AFP that the sector was headed for sales of 315 million bottles this year, representing turnover of 5.5 billion euros ($6.2 billion).

If confirmed, that would beat the current annual sales record of 5 billion euros, reached in 2019, before Covid struck.

The sales increase comes after severe spring frosts followed by summer rains wreaked havoc on French vineyards, some of which are forecast to report harvest losses of as much as a third for the year.

But Champagne must be aged more than a year and producers traditionally keep millions of bottles stored in their cellars to ensure steady supplies from one year to the next.

Strong exports, especially to English-speaking countries, were a big factor for the bumper year, Barillere said.

“The pandemic has created new consumer habits,” he said. “Everything related to entertaining at home is in high demand, including champagne.”

However the prospects for traditional events and restaurant dining over Christmas and New Year’s depends on Covid developments, and whether the Omicron strand prompts new travel restrictions, curfews or lockdowns.

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