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New measures eyed as Bettel addresses press

New measures eyed as Bettel addresses press

3 min. 21.12.2021 From our online archive
Press conference on Wednesday comes amid rapid spread of Omicron across the world
Health Minister Paulette Lenert (left) and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel
Health Minister Paulette Lenert (left) and Prime Minister Xavier Bettel
Photo credit: Anouk Antony

By John Monaghan and Kate Oglesby

Follow all the developments from the press conference through our live blog from 0945 hrs on Wednesday.

Speculation is rising that Prime Minister Xavier Bettel will announce fresh measures to tackle a surge in Covid-19 cases on Wednesday morning, as the world grapples with the rapid spread of the new Omicron variant of the virus.

Health Minister Paulette Lenert will join the press conference - announced less than 24 hours beforehand and coming after a government meeting on Tuesday – and previous announcements by the pair have always centred on Covid-19.

Luxembourg could introduce a 23:00 hrs curfew, the Luxemburger Wort reported, without quoting sources, while other media said measures to curb large events and limit the numbers at social gatherings were under consideration.

Luxembourg is struggling to contain the virus, with a further 229 cases recorded on Tuesday, and one more death. 70 patients are currently being treated for Covid-19 in hospital in the Grand Duchy, with 19 of those in intensive care.

There have been several hundred new cases each day for the past week, and the tally has not stood below 100 since December 12.

The Grand Duchy passed new Covid laws just last week to make it harder for the unvaccinated to go out and socialise, but the country refrained from closing hospitality venues or limiting the number of people allowed to get together.

Just days before Christmas last year, Bettel and Lenert announced that shops would shut and an overnight curfew would be brought forward to 21:00 hrs for the holiday period.

The latest government meeting came as countries across Europe tighten the rules to tackle a surge in coronavirus cases caused by the more contagious Omicron mutation.

The Netherlands became the first EU country to return to lockdown, shutting down shops, bars, restaurants and cinemas on Sunday. Other European states - including Luxembourg's neighbours France, Germany and Belgium - then also started tightening the reigns on travellers and partygoers. 

The infamous Hogmanay street celebrations to mark New Year in Edinburgh have been cancelled for the second year in a row, the Scottish government announced on Tuesday.

France has barred all visitors from the United Kingdom - where Omicron rates are some of the highest in Europe - while Germany has also introduced a two-week quarantine on travellers from there.

The highly transmissible Omicron variant is rapidly becoming the dominant variant of the coronavirus after it was discovered in South Africa.  

Vaccine certificates for those travelling through the EU will be valid for only nine months after a person has received a second dose of a vaccine, the European Commission said on Tuesday. After nine months, a person will have to get their booster jab to be able to continue using the certificate.

Hospitals across Luxembourg have begun to postpone operations to deal with an increasing number of admissions linked to Covid-19, in a sign of serious concern about the effects of the new variant.

As of 17 December, those wanting to attend bars and restaurants, and other recreational venues, now have to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from the disease. And as of 15 January, those wishing to work from the office will have to show a vaccine certificate, a negative Covid-19 test or prove they have recently recovered from the virus.

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