Countries across the world tightened restrictions on their populations to fight a resurgence in the coronavirus. From local curfews to alcohol bans and complete lockdowns, governments are trying to tackle a surge in cases due to the new strain of COVID-19. More than a third of the planet’s population is under some form of restriction.
The World Health Organization, which has officially declared the outbreak a pandemic, has called on “all countries to continue efforts that have been effective in limiting the number of cases and slowing the spread of the virus.”
Experts fear the worst is yet to come, predicting a sharp rise in infections and deaths after weeks of holiday gatherings.
Here are the various measures being adopted by countries around the world to curb the spread of new COVID-19 strain.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has imposed a new stay-at-home lockdown until at least mid-February to battle through the critical moment in the coronavirus pandemic, which has been exacerbated due to a new highly transmissible variant of the deadly virus.
Addressing the country in a televised address from Downing Street on Monday night, Johnson said the UK is at a pivotal stage in its fight against the rapidly spreading infections as he confirmed a complete shutdown of schools and businesses, similar to the very first nationwide lockdown back in March 2020. (Image: Reuters)
Earlier on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon issued a stay-at-home order for Scotland, beginning at midnight and lasting until the end of January.
Scotland’s lockdown, which is for the mainland and Skye, will also see schools closed to pupils, places of worship closed and group exercise banned.
“It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation we face now than I have been at any time since March last year,” Ms Sturgeon said.
The Netherlands in December imposed a five-week lockdown until January 19, 2021, closing all schools and non-essential stores, in an effort to curb the spread of the disease. “The Netherlands is closing down. We realise the gravity of our decisions, right before Christmas,” said the country’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Non-essential businesses, gyms, museums, cinemas and theatres have all shut.
Germany went into a strict lockdown on December 16, closing all non-essential shops and imposing curfews in some areas, with the measures expected to last until at least January 10.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Germans to avoid unnecessary travel and to limit social contacts to an absolute minimum.
Germany has also expanded its ban on passenger flights from the UK to forbid passenger transport by rail, bus and ship.
Austria has scrapped plans to allow anyone with a negative coronavirus test to exit lockdown a week early, effectively extending strict measures and keeping restaurants and non-essential stores shut until January 24, sources reported.
The decision came after Austria’s opposition parties blocked a draft law that would have allowed an early exit from lockdown for anyone producing a negative test for the coronavirus.
It was not immediately clear whether schools are also to remain closed until January 24 or if they can open as originally planned on January 18, sources reported.
Poland imposed a three-week partial lockdown from December 28, with shopping centres and ski slopes closed as well as a travel restriction on New Year’s Eve. The lockdown will last until at least January 17.