The year began on an optimistic note: although Europe was in the midst of the second Covid wave, an end to the pandemic seemed within reach thanks to several
The year began on an optimistic note: although Europe was in the midst of the second Covid wave, an end to the pandemic seemed within reach thanks to several
With the highly contagious Omicron variant sweeping across Europe, the coronavirus situation continues to worsen. Denmark is registering three times as many cases as ever before. London is trying to bring teachers out of retirement to compensate for shortages. And Germany's Covid panel has warned that the country's critical infrastructure could collapse. Europe's press also ponders
In Bucharest, around 300 anti-vaccine activists stormed past police guarding the parliament building and pushed their way into the inner courtyard. The Romanian parliament is currently debating "vaccinated, recovered, or tested" rules in the workplace. The protest was initiated by the ultranationalist AUR party, which is itself represented in the parliament. Columnists urge politicians not to give in to the protesters.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under intense pressure in recent days following reports of Christmas parties that allegedly took place last year during the
The new Covid variant Omicron which was first discovered in South Africa has the world on tenterhooks again. Despite the swift introduction of travel restrictions, several cases of the new variant have already been detected in Europe. It remains unclear how effective vaccines are against it. Europe's press reflects a consensus that this latest scare is a result of the neglect of poorer countries in the fight against Covid.
For the second time Switzerland has let its population vote on coronavirus measures - the only country in the world to do so. Around 62 percent voted in favour of retaining the Covid-19 certificate and hence the 3G policy [vaccinated, tested, recovered] for visits to restaurants, public buildings and events. The vote should give opponents of the measures food for thought, the nation's press believes.
From February 1, 2022, vaccination will be compulsory in Austria. The country currently has one of the highest Covid infection rates worldwide. Up to now vaccination has been made mandatory only for certain occupations in various EU states such as France or Greece. A number of commentators argue that Austria's lead should be followed - or at least seriously discussed - elsewhere in Europe.
Demonstrations against tighter Covid restrictions in several European cities including Rotterdam, Vienna and Zagreb turned violent on the weekend. In Brussels, police used water cannons and tear gas when an initially peaceful demonstration of 35,000 people escalated. Europe's press fears a complete breakdown of
Several countries are once again reacting to surging Covid infections with drastic
In most countries there is talk of a fourth, in Portugal of a fifth, and in Spain even of a sixth wave of Covid. Across Europe calls for measures to be tightened once more are being heard. The press is at odds as to whether
As of today, around two million people in Austria who are neither vaccinated nor recovered will only be allowed to leave their homes for urgent reasons such as to go shopping or to work. The last stage of the country's five-step Covid restrictions plan has come into effect after the percentage of intensive care beds occupied by Covid patients rose above 30 percent. What to make of this
A growing number of European countries are seeing a surge in Covid infection rates and reintroducing restrictions. Because the
Covid infection rates are on the rise again in many European countries. In Austria, new rules came into force on Monday under which only those with proof of vaccination or recovery will be allowed into bars, restaurants, and inside events or to use close-contact services like hairdressers. In
The number of Covid cases is rising in many European countries despite widespread vaccination. In
Food prices have been rising across the globe since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. This is causing increasing hardship for poorer countries, but also for the poorer sections of society in wealthier countries, because - as in Russia and Ukraine, for example - even low-cost staple foods are affected by massive price hikes. Commentators examine the causes.
The fourth wave is in full swing in Latvia. On 23 October 2,440 new infections were recorded - the highest figure since the beginning of the pandemic. Restrictions on public life are now once again in place. The pace of vaccination increased markedly in October, but so far only just under 60 percent of the population have received one jab and the vaccination rate is considerably lower in the Russian-speaking parts of the country.
Anti-Covid Vaccination rates are stagnating across Europe - and
Covid infection rates have risen to their highest level ever in Russia, with close to 1,000 people dying of Covid-19 every day. This is also the highest per capita mortality rate in the world. Despite initial success with the
After 20 days of advance notice, workers in Italy have until Friday to prove that they have either been vaccinated, recovered from coronavirus or that they have tested negative. Observers expect fierce resistance to the new regulations: staff at various ports in the country are threatening blockades if the measure is not withdrawn, and lorry drivers have also threatened walkouts. The national press calls on society to stand firm.
Romania recorded more than 11,000 new SARS-CoV-2 infections on Tuesday, its highest number since the start of the pandemic. Bulgaria and Romania have the lowest vaccination rates in the EU, with just over one-fourth of the population fully immunised. The country's media says the government's unconvincing and sluggish pandemic management is to blame.
In the coming winter season there will be hardly any restrictions for vaccinated and recovered tourists in Austria - apart from having to wear FFP2 masks in cable cars. With memories of the
Denmark took the plunge and lifted all infection control restrictions on Friday. Since 96 percent of people over 60 have been vaccinated, the virus no longer poses a threat to society, Health Minister Heunicke declared. Commentators in other countries now wonder when the time will come to follow suit.
What experts predicted since the start of the pandemic is now accepted among the general population: SARS-Cov-2 is here to stay. In view of stagnating vaccination rates and highly contagious variants like Delta, commentators are now wondering how much longer it will be before the virus is no longer a major threat.
In many European countries the new school year began on September 1. Hopes were high that after 18 months of closed schools, homeschooling, compulsory Covid tests and face masks there would be a return to normality. But the Delta variant is driving up infection rates, especially among children, most of whom are unvaccinated. Today's commentaries reflect disgruntlement and perplexity - and concerns over even bigger problems.
Major demonstrations against mandatory vaccination in the health sector and the health passport took place again in several French cities over the weekend. According to the Ministry of the Interior, around 240,000 people took to the street. The Constitutional Council had previously approved the new Covid measures. But these demonstrations are about more than the conflict between
France's National Assembly has approved the introduction of the health passport. However, the vaccination and testing obligations are less restrictive than the government had previously planned. Macron described those who do not want to be vaccinated as irresponsible and selfish. Many accuse the president of exploiting the pandemic to expand his power.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic Europe has been discussing the
In France, 160,000 people demonstrated against new coronavirus restrictions on the weekend, and there were also large demonstrations in Italy and Greece. Athens and Paris have imposed
In the UK,
Three weeks ago, the Netherlands lifted almost all its Covid-related restrictions. Clubs and discos were allowed to reopen for the first time in over a year. Last Saturday, however, the country's health authority reported 10,000 new infections and Prime Minister Mark Rutte was forced to backpedal. He and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge apologised on Monday for the "yo-yo policy".
As of 19 July, virtually all remaining Covid restrictions are to be lifted in the UK. Although infection numbers have surged, with the seven-day incidence reaching 259, the number of hospital admissions and deaths has remained relatively low. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "We need to learn to live with the virus." Is the British government doing the right thing?
With 670 deaths per day, the number of people dying from Covid in Russia has now reached unprecedented levels, in part because of the
The new EU-wide Digital Covid Certificate which aims to facilitate travel for those who are vaccinated comes into force today, 1 July. But several states are still having problems issuing or checking the vaccination certificate. Commentators see further hurdles on the path back to unrestricted freedom of travel but hail the certificate as an integrating achievement.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is causing a spike in infection rates in several countries. In Europe, Britain, Russia and Portugal are the hardest hit so far. But even in countries with a low incidence, the proportion of those infected with the variant is steadily rising, and vaccinated people are reportedly becoming infected with it as well. Commentators discuss what measures should be taken and ask whether politicians and the population are taking the threat seriously enough.
Unlike in most European countries, there were hardly any coronavirus restrictions in Russia for months. However less than 10 percent of the population has been vaccinated so far, and now the number of cases is rapidly rising. This has prompted a debate about compulsory vaccination (in Moscow regulations have already been introduced obliging companies to ensure that 60 percent of their employees are vaccinated) - and above all about the reasons for the debacle.
In an open letter to her Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has called for a solution to the dispute over commuters. Finland currently only permits quarantine-free entry to arrivals from Malta and Iceland. Since the start of the year when the rules were tightened, thousands of Estonians have had to choose between their jobs on one side of the border and their families on the other.
Since mid-May, Portugal has been the only major European destination that Britons were allowed to visit, and even hosted the
Many European countries are now discussing how to address the problems caused by homeschooling. In the UK, Education Recovery Commissioner Kevan Collins resigned in protest when only 1.4 billion pounds was approved instead of the 15 billion he had demanded. This is also the subject of heated discussion in the British press. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands an even larger financial package is coming under fire.
At the Champions League final in Porto, visiting fans of the British clubs Manchester City and Chelsea FC enjoyed freedoms that are still denied to the Portuguese under Covid restrictions. The policy was at the very least poorly communicated to the public, if not completely misguided, national media criticise.
A Wall Street Journal report has given fresh impetus to the theory that Sars-Cov-2 originated from a Chinese lab. According to the report based on unpublished US intelligence, employees of the Wuhan Institute of Virology showing symptoms similar to Covid sought hospital care in November 2019. US President Biden is demanding clarification and has expanded the US intelligence agency investigation, saying he wants a report within 90 days.
France has lifted further restrictions in accordance with its phased reopening plan for the easing of anti-Covid lockdown measures, which began on May 3. The outdoor areas of restaurants and cafes, as well as shops and cultural institutions were allowed to reopen on Wednesday. The country's 7-day incidence rate is currently at 149 (as of 20 May). Commentators are encouraged.
Despite still relatively high infection rates (the 7-day incidence rate on 14 May was 156), the strict lockdown in Greece has for the most part been lifted after around six months. The country also officially
As the vaccination programmes progress and increase immunity, hopes of an end to the restrictions and a return to normality are also growing. But the pandemic has opened up wounds that will continue to hurt even after infection rates have been brought under control in our part of the world, Europe's press notes.
In Greece, the governing party Nea Dimokratia has decided to grant immunity from prosecution to all those dealing with and making decisions aimed at tackling the pandemic. Under the new provisions scientists, politicians and civil servants who work in committees set up to deal with coronavirus-related issues cannot be prosecuted for statements or decisions made in the course of these activities. The move has been met with fierce criticism.
The European Parliament on Thursday approved the introduction of EU
Portugal celebrated Freedom Day on 25 April, in commemoration of the Carnation Revolution of 1974 when an almost bloodless coup supported by a clear majority of the population put an end to the dictatorship introduced by António de Salazar. Unlike
India is now the epicentre of the pandemic. Beds, medicine and above all oxygen are lacking in its hospitals and people are dying at the clinics, at home and on the street. More than 40 countries have pledged aid. In the midst of this chaos, elections were held in several states. Observers make serious accusations against the government and warn that everyone must pitch in to help.
Tourism in Greece is to be ramped up again from May 15, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced in a televised speech on Wednesday evening. Covid-related restrictions will be relaxed in the coming weeks, with restaurants and cafés reopening from May 3. Commentators are emphatically unenthusiastic.
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began for Muslims across the globe on Tuesday. Adults and believers who are in good health are required not to eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset. Due to the pandemic, people will
Three Covid-19 patients who were being treated in a container installed outside a hospital in Bucharest have died, presumably due to a malfunction of the oxygen supply systems to which they were connected. The containers were purchased in April last year to take some of the strain off overcrowded hospitals. Commentators say the incident is just the tip of the iceberg.
Sharp drops in the number of infections thanks to a successful
The pandemic is also having an indirect negative impact on people's health: from mental health issues caused by social restrictions to a registered excess mortality that has nothing to do with Covid-19 infections. Policymakers need to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon and find ways to deal with it, commentators urge.
Under massive pressure from President Miloš Zeman, the former Czech Health Minister
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been instructed by Germany's Constitutional Court not to sign off on a law ratifying the EU's coronavirus
The Covid crisis has increased poverty, unemployment and social inequality across Europe and in the rest of the world. Young people, the culture and hospitality sectors and tourism are the worst affected, as well as groups that were already structurally disadvantaged before the pandemic. Commentators paint a bleak picture and call for urgent and effective action.
Although most European governments are extremely reluctant to impose further lockdowns and restrictions on their citizens, in view of growing infection rates they see no other option. This makes it all the more important that the measures they take are viewed as reasonable and logical. Which is posing a major problem, commentators note.
In France, the coronavirus 7-day incidence rate lies at 252.5 cases per 100,000 people. Nevertheless, politicians are currently not planning new hard lockdowns, shops remain open, and schools are mostly back to running as normal. Instead the focus is being placed on strict mask requirements, curfews and tests, until most of the population has been vaccinated. Commentators voice their approval.
In mid-March 2020 most of the shops, daycare centres and
Valued at roughly 1.6 trillion euros, the "American Rescue Plan" for combatting the Covid crisis passed by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday and signed into law by US President Joe Biden on Thursday is one of the biggest economic stimulus programmes of all time. The debt-financed package primarily aims to help the poor, families, communities and schools. The majority of Europe's media are impressed and hope the plan will have a positive impact on this side of the Atlantic, too.
Scientific studies show that the year-long pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health. Many people are suffering as a result of far-reaching restrictions, the burden of individual responsibility and infection rates that are rising despite all the efforts. Many people with a history of depression have been particularly hard hit. How should society react?
In the context of the Corona crisis, the birth rate has plummeted in many European countries as well as in the USA and China, among others. In Spain, for example, there were 22.6 percent fewer births in January compared to the previous year, and in France 13 percent. Commentators ponder what could help and refer to the opposite trend in poorer countries with concern.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is predicting 5.6 percent global growth for this year. The main drivers are China with 7.8 and the US with 6.5 percent, but the Eurozone is also on trend with an expected plus of 3.9 percent. However, this is still not enough to allay the concerns of the commentators.
In Denmark, migrants account for 8.9 percent of the total population but 23 percent of coronavirus cases. Municipal employees are now going door to door in
Of the 2.5 million coronavirus deaths worldwide, 2.2 million were in countries with a comparatively high obesity rate, according to a study put out by the World Obesity Federation this week. Previous studies also establish a link between severe Covid cases and obesity. Should efforts to combat obesity be ramped up? And if so, how? Opinions are divided.
Italy decided on Tuesday to partially tighten its anti-pandemic restrictions. Among other things, all schools in the hard-hit red zones will be closed again. On the same day a Unicef report appeared which documents a huge educational crisis: 168 million children worldwide are currently excluded from classes. Is keeping school closed the right approach?
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has presented his budget for 2021 and explained the plan for economic recovery and
After weeks and in some cases months of far-reaching restrictions on public life in many European countries, calls for the anti-pandemic measures to be eased are growing louder. At the same time,
Germany partially closed its borders with Austria and the Czech Republic on the weekend due to concerns about the spread of new
Companies on the brink of bankruptcy, citizens on the
Czech Health Minister Jan Blatný has rejected Germany's offer to relieve the country's overstretched Czech clinics in the border region by transporting corona patients to Bavaria and Saxony. That could lead people to believe the Czech Republic can't take care of its own citizens, he said. Commentators in Prague find this stance utterly incomprehensible.
In many countries of Europe shops and schools have been closed for weeks in a bid to reduce the number of coronavirus infections. But people are growing very weary of all the measures. At the same time,
Concerns about the spread of
Many people hear the latest figures on coronavirus deaths even before breakfast, as breaking news on their smartphones or the radio. As a society, this means we are thinking about death again, more than we have for a long time - even those of us who have not yet lost any relatives or friends to the virus. What effect does this have? And is it not legitimate to want to suppress thoughts of mortality?
In many European countries schools and universities have remained partially or completely closed after the Christmas holidays. Decisons on when and to what extent classroom teaching will restart are generally being taken contingent on current infection rates. For many commentators the measures regarding children and young people border on ignorance.