Updated Feb 9, 2022 - World

European countries increasingly ease COVID restrictions

A person receiving a coronavirus vaccine in Prague in December 2021.
A person receiving a coronavirus vaccine in Prague in December 2021. Photo: Tomas Tkacik/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Czech Republic eased its coronavirus restrictions Wednesday by canceling a requirement for people to show proof of vaccination to attend public events, bars or restaurants or use certain services, according to AP.

Why it matters: Several European nations have recently eased or ended their COVID restrictions. The moves signal that these countries believe a potential bump in cases from opening back up is unlikely to jeopardize their health services, despite elevated — though rapidly falling — case numbers from the Omicron variant.

  • Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Wednesday that in addition to ending the proof of vaccination requirement, his government will lift more coronavirus measures in February, according to AP.

Other announcements made so far:

Sweden
  • Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced Thursday that all of the country's restrictions would end on Feb. 9, allowing people to return to restaurants without capacity or operating hours limitations, AP reports.
  • This also includes the end of its vaccine and face mask mandate on public transportation, as well as its recommendation to limit social contact.
Denmark
  • Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced Tuesday that the country no longer considers COVID-19 to be a "socially critical disease" and would lift its restrictions.
  • “The pandemic is still here but with what we know, we now dare to believe that we are through the critical phase,” Frederiksen added.
Norway
  • Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced Tuesday that Norway's restrictions would end.
  • "Even if many more people are becoming infected, there are fewer who are hospitalised. We're well protected by vaccines. This means that we can relax many measures even as infections are rising rapidly," Støre said.

The big picture: Several other European countries, like the United Kingdom, have announced the end to some restrictions, including travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers.

  • Yes, but: Austria last week became the first country in the European Union to legally mandate that all adults get vaccinated against COVID-19.

What they're saying: Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization's regional director for Europe, said Thursday that the continent is likely entering a "ceasefire" with coronavirus because of high vaccination rates, the approaching end of winter and the Omicron variant.

  • "This period of higher protection should be seen as a 'ceasefire' that could bring us enduring peace," Kluge said, according to the BBC.

Go deeper: Omicron infections may not protect well against future spread

Editor's note: This story, originally published on Feb. 4, has been updated with new details about the Czech Republic.

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