French Prime Minister warned that Omicron is “spreading at lightning speed.”

On Friday, Dec. 17, Jean Castex spoke just hours before France placed stringent travel restrictions on persons arriving from the United Kingdom. He added that the Omicron variant is expected to become widespread in France in early 2022.

France closed its borders to individuals from the United Kingdom for business or tourism. The new rule resulted in huge lines at the Port of Dover and Eurostar terminals as people rushed to enter before the ban took effect.

Castex claimed that the travel limits were part of measures to halt a wave of infections.

Those measures include shortening the time between the second and third doses of the vaccine and requiring full immunization to enter restaurants and public transport.

All formal New Year’s Eve ceremonies and fireworks have been canceled as well.

Castex also said that the government would unveil new measures to combat vaccine hesitancy in 2022, according to the BBC.

On Saturday, Dec. 18, French Health Minister Olivier Veran stated that Omicron variations are likely responsible for up to 10% of new confirmed illnesses in the country.

According to Fench’s coronavirus dashboard, the country now has more than 48,000 new cases every day.

In the same effort as France, Italy, Greece, and Portugal earlier declared that all EU tourists, including those vaccinated, will be required to provide a negative test certification upon arrival.

On Friday, Dec. 17, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, and the Netherlands issued further regulations to stop the infectious waves.

With around 25,000 confirmed Omicron cases as of Saturday, Dec. 18, the UK is by far the region’s worst impacted.

The UK previously reported a record number of COVID-19 infections—over 93,000—for the third day in a straight. Omicron causes the majority of cases.

According to the latest EU estimates, over 89 million cases and 1.5 million COVID-19 related fatalities were reported in Europe.

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