Travel restrictions across Europe return as Omicron becomes a worrying variable

Travel restrictions have been reimposed in an effort to contain a new strain of Covid as the World Health Organization yesterday classified the «Omicron» variant as a concern.

The republic last night followed the European Union in agreeing to implement «emergency braking» on arrivals from eight countries in South Africa, with Belgium confirming the bloc’s first case of Omicron. There are concerns that this new alternative could be more transmissible and may show resistance to vaccines.

People arriving in Ireland from the eight countries will have to quarantine at home for 10 days after entering the state. While the number of travelers affected will be small, the reimposition of travel restrictions marks another return to tighter restrictions to get Covid under control.

Amid plans to expand the rollout of the booster vaccine in the state, Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly has signaled support for the National Public Health Emergencies Team (Nphet) recommendations that no sleepovers, networking, indoor birthday parties and children’s play dates be held for at least the next two weeks.

While the government has not formally considered the advice, Mr Donnelly said last night: «I would certainly support the advice. I think it is very important as a preventative measure for children of this age right now.»

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