Tag Archives: Omicron

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:

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.

Europe: Omicron hits travel

Brussels, 11.12.2021 TUI (TUIFF) says a surge in Covid-19 infections and the Omicron variant is taking its toll on winter holiday bookings.

Europe’s biggest travel company said on Wednesday, December 8, it had been seeing “positive momentum” in bookings but that had weakened because of “the increased media coverage of rising [coronavirus] incident rates and the emergence of new Omicron variant.”

The company said that if “current sentiment prevails,” it would likely only operate around 60% of pre-pandemic capacity, towards the lower end of where it had hoped to be. Bookings for this winter were currently at 62% of levels seen in 2018-2019, it added.

“In light of recent trends, capacity will likely be modified towards the lower end of our winter capacity plans of between 60% and 80%. We expect the current short-term booking behavior to continue,” TUI said in its annual report.

Covid-19 infections have been rising in some of TUI’s most important markets. Germany on Wednesday recorded its highest number of daily deaths from Covid-19 since February, as it struggles to bring a fourth wave of the pandemic under control.

In the United Kingdom, pressure is mounting on the government to introduce tougher restrictions to try to limit infections amid rising case numbers. The seven-day rolling average on November 29 was over 45,000, the highest it’s been since a peak around October 17.

Omicron: France restricts travel

Brussels 02.12.2021 France has announced new rules for all travellers – vaccinated or not – arriving in France from non-EU countries in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 named Omicron.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, speaking after the weekly meeting of the government’s Defence Council on Wednesday, on December 1, announced the implementation of new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the newly-detected Omicron variant.

A government Decree published on Thursday, December 2, provides more detail.

The new rules come into force at 00.01 AM on Saturday, December 4th, and the testing requirements apply to everyone aged 12 or older – including those who have French citizenship or permanent residency in France.

All travellers – vaccinated or not – will require a negative Covid test in order to enter France from any country outside the EU or Schengen zone. This would include travellers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The test must have been taken within 48 hours of departure. The decree states that only tests “that are able to detect protein N of Sars-Cov2” can be used – this covers all PCR tests but not all antigen tests. Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.