As COVID-19 cases are again on the rise across the EU, countries are adopting new measures and tightening existing restrictions to stem the outbreak.
Despite intensive vaccination programs, the increase in coronavirus case numbers has forced several EU countries to take new measures against the highly transmissible Delta variant.
Germany warns of increase in cases
On July 14, Germany had registered 1,548 daily cases of the virus, which spiked to 2,203 on July 21, reaching the highest level of the month. Authorities say the increase has been due to the Delta variant, which was first detected in India.
The country’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute, reported that the variant now makes up an estimated 84% of new COVID-19 cases in Germany.
Health Minister Jens Spahn also warned that there may be a serious increase in COVID-19 cases in the coming months.
A total of 50.4 million people in Germany were given their first dose of vaccination, while 40.36 million people were vaccinated with their second dose. The first dose of the vaccine was administered to 60.6% of the population, and the second dose to 48.5%.
Belgium sees rise in cases during July
As Belgium eased pandemic measures in May and June, the number of cases started to increase this month.
The Scientific Institute for Public Health announced that the number of new cases increased by 19% in the week of July 15-21 and was recorded at 1,407.
From Aug. 13, the government will begin issuing COVID safe information tickets showing whether a person is fully vaccinated, has had and recovered from the disease, or has recently tested negative for it. Belgians will be able to attend social events with this ticket.
According to data of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 82.7% of the adult population has received their first dose of the vaccine in Belgium, where health staff have administered the third-most jabs in the EU, with 62.7% of the population fully vaccinated.
Greece brings more pandemic restrictions
Due to a recent surge in cases, Greece has started implementing many new measures, especially an obligation to vaccinate.
With the opening of the tourism season in Greece, restrictions were tightened in some regions due to a case rise in the Aegean islands. A night curfew was imposed on Mykonos Island, one of the country's important resorts.
According to a statement by the Greek Health Ministry, 2,854 infections and seven deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours, while about 44% people countrywide have completed the vaccination process.
UK lifts restrictions as EU increases measures
Despite a similar recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK, the last of the virus restrictions implemented within the four-stage plan were lifted on July 19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted the one-meter social distance rule and requirement to wear masks.
However, mask-wearing is still recommended, especially in crowded areas like public transportation. With the removal of restrictions, limits on the number of people allowed to gather indoors and outdoors, including in concerts, cinemas, and theaters, were also lifted, while nightclubs and bars opened.
Experts are worried that the Delta variant will fuel a third wave as restrictions are lifted as it accounts for 99% of cases.
The number of cases in the last 24 hours in the country rose to 36,389, while 64 people died due to coronavirus-related reasons.
Since Britain's vaccination program started on Dec. 8, 2020, 46 million people got their first doses, while 36 million were fully vaccinated.
France sees upsurge in cases
With a rise in infections due to the Delta variant, the French government decided to make vaccination compulsory for hospital and nursing home workers and to expand the current health license application.
The vaccination requirement and COVID-19 license were protested by thousands amid demonstrations in several cities.
According France's public health agency, 21,493 people were infected and 26 died due to the virus in the last 24 hours.
Over the last seven days, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests increased to 3.7%.
According to data from French Health Ministry, the number of people who received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 27, 2020 reached 39 million and 32 million people have been given the second or third dose.
Italy's EURO 2020 Championship
The Italian National Institute of Health has said that the Delta variant continues to spread in the country, also affecting younger people.
Crowded celebrations after the country's EURO 2020 Championship victory on July 11 also contributed to the rising cases.
The government, led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, will enforce the country's Green Transition document, which aims to stipulate the vaccination, especially in social activities, as of Aug. 6, in a bid to prevent economic activities from once again grinding to a halt.
Since the start of Italy's vaccination program on Dec. 27, 2020, 64 million vaccine doses have been administered.