The Speaker
Saturday, 18 May 2024 – 10:00

Europe locks down for a third time as U.K. fears its own third wave

Much of Europe has gone back into lockdown amid a third wave of the Coronavirus, with the U.K.’s SAGE committee reportedly worried that it could lead to further spread in the United Kingdom if travel restrictions are eased.

As the United Kingdom ticked over the 50% vaccination mark for all adults, the European Union has seen many countries head back into lockdown, with Poland and France the latest to impose new restrictions. A slow vaccine rollout and the easing of restrictions has seen the third spike in infection rates, just as the United Kingdom begins a more comprehensive reopening of the economy from next month.

The SAGE committee are repretedly worried that the relaxing of any travel restrictions, allowing U.K. travellers to head abroad for their summer holidays, could bring a similar third wave to the country, despite most adults expected to have received both doses of their vaccine by the middle of summer.

Labour has called for the immediate introduction of a “comprehensive hotel quarantine system” in order to prevent this from occurring if travel does resume, with Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds saying “The renewed surges of Covid across Europe are really worrying”.

“The UK’s first priority has to be to protect the progress made by the vaccine – that means we need a comprehensive hotel quarantine system without further delay”.

“Of course we all want international travel to resume, but safety has to come first.”

“It is too early to say if there can be any changes to travel advice on May 17, as numbers in many European countries are increasing so sharply. We have to be led by the science, not arbitrary dates.”

The measures in France will impact around 21 million people, with Paris being amongst the regions being locked down for one month – the measures took effect last night.

France has recorded more than 35,000 new infections within the past 24 hours.

The news comes as France has resumed the use of the Oxford AstraZenenca vaccine for the over-55s after it had been put on hold over (largely unsubstantiated) fears of blood clotting. The evidence suggested that the rate of blood clots was lower than that amongst the general population, and significantly below the rate of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was also below the population average.

There are fears that Europe will struggle to implement a solid vaccination programme, with a recent study suggesting that only around 20% of people are willing to get the vaccine. The rate in the United Kingdom is around 99% amongst over 55s and around 90% amongst all adults.

Germany are also considering further measures, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying it is likely that the country will now need to apply an “emergency brake” in the coming weeks.

However, this is not without backlash, with significant anti-lockdown demonstrations taking place across Europe in recent days, with Amsterdam seeing significant clashes between protesters and police.

Just as the United Kingdom seem to be heading towards the final stretch, it looks as though much of Europe is far behind, and a third wave could be about to grip the continent as their vaccine rollout falters and citizens lash out against restrictions.

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