How do Ireland's Covid restrictions compare to the rest of Europe? 8 months ago

How do Ireland's Covid restrictions compare to the rest of Europe?

Ireland is not the only country re-introducing Covid regulations.

Restrictions announced by the Taoiseach earlier this week left us feeling disheartened.

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While normality seemed to be looming on the horizon, and we began to reclaim our social lives, we now find ourselves back in an eerily familiar situation.

Despite 90% of our population being fully vaccinated, case numbers have been rapidly rising recently.

Europe is now in the midst of the fourth wave of coronavirus. Governments across the continent are currently weighing up how to tackle the surge.

Here, we are seeing earlier closing times for the hospitality sector, new working from home guidelines,  and harsher rules for household close contacts being introduced.

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Austria has now become the first European country to re-introduce a nationwide lockdown. It also plans to make its vaccination rollout mandatory for all citizens.

But will other countries follow suit?

In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis has announced that unvaccinated people will be banned from attending restaurants, bars, and certain events, as well as using various other services from next Monday on.

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60% of the Czech population are currently vaccinated, meaning the new rules will affect just under half of the public.

Likewise, in Slovakia, the Government has taken similar steps to its neighbour, as now only vaccinated people will be allowed to enter restaurants, bars, and shops with non-essential goods, or attend public events.

Slovakia remains one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rate in Europe, with only 45% of people fully jabbed.

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Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger referred to the new measures as a “lockdown for the unvaccinated”.

In Germany, similar restrictions for the unvaccinated have been introduced, while Health Minister Jens Spahn said that the current situation means a lockdown could be on the cards.

Additional measures are set to be considered, as cases continue to top 50,000 daily. A massive 65,000 new cases were reported on Thursday.

As reported by Reuters, German Chancellor Angela Merke said: "The number of daily new infections is higher than ever before... and the daily death toll is also frightening. The fourth wave is hitting our country with full force."

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Italy also plans to soon take action to combat infections - while reserving any new restrictions for unvaccinated people only.

Some EU countries, however, don't plan on bringing back harsh restrictions. French President Emmanuel Macron said the country does not need to follow others by imposing lockdowns on unvaccinated people, because the introduction of the 'health pass' has already been successful in curbing the virus.

In France, people must show this health pass - which is proof of vaccination or negative test - to go to restaurants, cafes, bars, and cinemas, or attend most public activities.

Here in Ireland, we know that Taoiseach Michael Martin and several other Government figures have said that further restrictions cannot be ruled out.

It remains to be seen what exactly these further restrictions will entail or if Ireland will follow its fellow EU countries in imposing restrictions exclusively for the unvaccinated.

This week, Ireland experienced its highest rate of hospital admissions in the year so far.

As of Thursday, 4,650 additional cases of Covid were confirmed and 643 Covid patients were in hospital, with 118 of those patients in intensive care.