The World Today for January 03, 2022

NEED TO KNOW

Once More Unto the Breach

WORLD

As the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spread around the globe, the Netherlands instituted a nationwide lockdown that made the Dutch feel like it was 2020 all over again.

Non-essential businesses, bars and restaurants are closed until mid-January, the Associated Press reported. Educational institutions are shuttered until Jan. 9. Only two visitors are allowed in private residences. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s, four visitors were allowed.

A chef in the Hague named George told the BBC that he would throw away all the fresh food he had purchased in expectation of serving customers during this busy time of year.

Ireland ordered bars and restaurants to close early and instituted restrictions on groups, Bloomberg wrote. Germany is considering mandating vaccines. Starting in January in France, only vaccinated people will obtain health passes to allow them to visit bars, restaurants and other locations. Israel banned travel from the US, Canada and eight other countries to stop the spread, even as they are rolling out a fourth shot.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand are loosening restrictions, the Washington Post wrote. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who postponed her wedding due to the pandemic, is planning to get hitched in January. The singer Lorde is scheduled to perform.

Cases in Australia, where officials shut their borders in March 2020, are spiking. But the country in the southern hemisphere is heading into the summer, Reuters explained. Around 90 percent of Australians older than 16 have been fully vaccinated. Health officials said the important metric is how many people are in intensive care, not the overall infection rate.

That doesn’t mean all is well Down Under. Some Australian states require negative test results to enter, but surging demand means that waiting times have stretched to as long as five days for results, the Guardian added. Many folks weren’t able to receive their test results in time to travel home for Christmas.

China was in a particular pickle, announcing travel restrictions that would prevent many people from joining loved ones for the Lunar New Year festivities, CNN reported. The measures were part of a “zero-Covid” strategy intended, however, to avoid harsh restrictions during the Beijing Olympics in February when a flood of athletes and other visitors will visit the city, potentially carrying the virus.

Japanese leaders took the opposite tack. In their country, which has enjoyed remarkable success in suppressing the virus, as National Public Radio wrote, they are denying entry to all foreign non-residents in a bid to prolong their good fortune.

This patchwork of efforts might bear some best practices. Of course, best practices mean little if few follow them.

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