Dealing With Omicron: COVID Rules Around the World
Some countries are easing the rules, while others are getting stricter.
By: GenZ Staff | February 1, 2022 | 1042 Words
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has upset the entire world. Some nations say this milder version of the virus could signal a return to normal life, while others are still trying to keep COVID away at all costs. Countries across the globe are trying different tactics, but which are having the most success and what are their methods?
Tactic 1: Return to Normal Life
While some countries are resorting to lockdowns, fines, and everything imaginable in the name of stopping the spread of COVID, others have taken a step back.
On January 27, the United Kingdom lifted all COVID restrictions. This means COVID passports will no longer be needed to attend large events, and there are no more mask mandates. The government has also stopped asking people to work from home or self-isolate.
The U.K. had imposed strict rules after the Omicron outbreak in November but is now pulling back. The first Omicron case in that country was documented on November 27. The British government tried to slow the spread of the virus with mask and vaccine mandates. It made no difference. Despite all efforts, Omicron cases peaked January 5.
While a “Plan B” had been in place to impose stricter rules, this was canceled after it was discovered that government staff had broken lockdown rules.
Søren Brostrøm, director of the Danish Health Authority, told the press the country is looking at treating COVID-19 like a normal seasonal flu rather than a pandemic. Rather than vaccine mandates, passports, lockdowns, masks, and social distancing, he said they are considering “a seasonal vaccine targeting only risk groups,” meaning the elderly and people who are at-risk. Other Scandinavian countries greeted this news with similar ideas; Norway announced it would ease its restrictions, too.
South Africa was one of the first countries to experience the Omicron variant. Instead of new restrictions, the government did nothing to stop the virus. There were practically no lockdowns, social distancing, or limits on movement. People were busy surviving daily life, and buses were packed full. Omicron emerged in South Africa sometime around mid-November, and the virus peaked on December 18. Since then, African scientists have been some of those saying Omicron could signal the end of the pandemic.
Tactic 2: More Restrictions
Quebec, the second most populated province in Canada, announced on January 18 that it will be fining the unvaccinated. Although the amount is not settled, it is rumored to be “significant” and more than $100. They aren’t calling it a “fine.” Instead, as Premier Francois Legault said, “Those who refuse to get their first doses in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution.”
A curfew was also imposed where citizens cannot be out between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Shopping malls and hair salons may soon require proof of vaccination. About 25% (one quarter) of all Canadians live in Quebec. The province was one of the first to require vaccination proof for those who wished to go to restaurants, the gym, or sporting events.
France recently passed a law that unvaccinated people will be banned from restaurants, cafes, sporting events, and other recreational venues. Before, people were allowed to show a negative COVID test to get into these places, but now they have to provide proof of vaccination.
However, France, has announced plans to ease back on other COVID restrictions in February. The rollback will be done in stages, but one of the first things to go will be the requirement for indoor masks.
Italians who are 50 or older are required to get the COVID vaccination. If not, the unvaccinated could see a fine of up to 1,600 euros if they enter their workplace. As of January 20, Italy’s Super Green Pass is required for those who wish to use public transport or go to most public places. The pass shows that you have either been vaccinated or recovered from COVID in the last six months – a negative COVID test is not accepted.
Austria became the first European nation to impose a general vaccine for everyone over the age of 18. Those who refuse to get the vaccine will be charged €3,600 ($4,100). Beginning in March, police will have the power to check vaccination status during routine stops; those who cannot provide proof will be fined up to €600 ($685).
China has a zero-COVID strategy that includes everything from lockdowns to quarantining cities. In December 2021, more than 13 million people in the city of Xi’an were ordered to stay in their homes. Only one person per household was allowed to leave the residence to get food and other essentials, but only once every couple of days. Long-distance bus stations were closed to prevent anyone from leaving the area – or going into it.
COVID and the United States
On Sunday, January 23, a large protest against vaccine mandates took place in Washington, D.C. The rally was a reaction to a new city rule that some businesses have to check that customers over the age of 12 have been vaccinated.
In other parts of the country, vaccine mandates, mask requirements, and other restrictions are imposed differently, as each state has its own rules. Some are more lenient, while others are still using mask mandates and restricting unvaccinated people from going to the movies, restaurants, gyms, and other entertainment venues.
It is easy to see there isn’t a set rulebook that everyone is following when it comes to COVID. Some regions have decided to treat the virus as a part of normal life, just like the flu or common cold. Others are trying to eradicate the disease from their societies. What do you think is the right strategy?