As Europe struggles with a rising number of coronavirus cases caused by the Delta variant, several countries are making vaccinations compulsory for health care workers, and some leaders are even considering making shots mandatory for all.
The moves by France and Greece come as both countries — and indeed most of Europe — see a steep increase in cases of the coronavirus caused by the Delta variant. The strain, first identified in India earlier this year, is more transmissible and has spread across the world in recent months.
The threat posed by the Delta variant has prompted several European governments to reintroduce restrictions in recent days.
The Netherlands reinstated curbs on nightclubs and restaurants on Friday after seeing a spike in cases. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized for easing the restrictions at the end of June, telling reporters on Monday that it had been an “error in judgment.”
The Spanish regions of Valencia and Catalonia have introduced new restrictions on social gatherings and hospitality, while Portugal has reinstated a curfew in some high-risk areas and said it would start requiring tourists to show a negative test or a vaccination certificate in order to stay in hotels.
Even as most of Europe steps on the emergency brake, the UK government remains adamant that it will drop nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England next week.
Prime Minister Boris Jonson confirmed on Monday that the easing will happen despite a steep increase in Covid cases; he admitted this would lead to “more hospitalizations and more deaths from Covid.”
He justified the move by pointing to the country’s high vaccination rate and added that it was better to open the economy now, when schools are closed for summer holiday and the weather is good.