A few tufts of Orange, but mostly red – lots of red. The coronavirus map, which the European health service updates weekly as an indication, shows once again how the continent is struggling with new outbreaks.

With the Christmas holidays just around the corner, the message came yesterday as a blow to winter sports enthusiasts: Dutch people who want to slide off the Austrian slopes should be provided with a booster shot and a negative PCR test from Saturday. If you do not, a quarantine obligation of at least five days applies.

The Austrians are afraid of the Omicron variant and have added The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Norway and Denmark to a list of ‘virus variant regions’. Those who do reach the country do not have to count on an evening of après-ski. It stays closed for now. Shops and restaurants are open.

Winter sports enthusiasts – or other travellers – who want to travel to Italy and Switzerland should also prepare themselves well. For example, they must have a negative test. In both countries, the prevalence rate is on the rise, although they are still a short distance from the previous peak.

France works with the ‘pass sanitaire’ – no less. Prime Minister Jean Castex has already warned that the ‘health Pass ‘ – now available with a recovery certificate, jab or negative test-will turn into a’vaccination pass’ in the New Year. Whether the name will actually change is the question, but it says a lot about the French focus on the booster.

Where ‘booster’ is the key word in France, the British are busy discussing Christmas. Prime minister Boris Johnson urges the British not to cancel their Christmas plans. His government is on top of the situation, he says, and will take new measures if necessary.

Meanwhile, the number of infections is growing further and further: yesterday, the UK reported for the first time more than 100,000 infections in a day.

After Christmas measures have been announced in Belgium and Germany. Both countries will not be locked, but will introduce more stringent measures. For example, the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that from 28 december only ten people (vaccinated or cured) will be allowed to come together. Nightclubs and discotheques are closing.

Belgians are only allowed to shop in duos after Christmas. The cultural sector – cinemas, theatres, concert halls-must close its doors, the catering industry remains open. The Belgians hope that thanks to their relatively successful booster campaign it will stay there.

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