The gap between European nations in relation to COVID policy is continuing to widen, as more nations loosen rules while others pursue mandatory vaccination laws.
Both the Netherlands and Northern Ireland are currently in the process of loosening lockdown rules, with Northern Ireland, in particular, having scrapped the internal use of COVID certs for most services on Wednesday.
As the two nations exit lockdown, however, other countries — such as Germany — are to discuss tightening rules even further, as the freedom gap between European states continues to widen.
According to a report by the BBC, Northern Ireland was set to drastically reduce its regime of COVID certs from midday on Wednesday, with the passes only set to remain for nightclubs and large events.
The passes had previously been a requirement for access to pubs, restaurants and cinemas, with a so-called “rule of six”, which limited the number of people allowed at one table in a bar or restaurant, also set to be scrapped.
After a long absence, restaurants, bars and cultural venues are permitted to reopen in the country, though a COVID cert proving jabbed, recovered or tested status will be required for entry.
According to a Politico report, the nation was the only European country to enter a period of lockdown over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, with non-compliance protests being prompted in the country after authorities loosened rules for retail two weeks previously, but not restaurants or bars.
Austrian Parliament Votes Overwhelmingly To Introduce Mandatory Vaccination for All Adultshttps://t.co/7O3dEMLCjX
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 21, 2022
While the Netherlands and Northern Ireland follow England and Ireland in drastically easing lockdown restrictions, other European countries look set to heighten measures in relation to COVID, especially in regards to discrimination based on one’s vaccination status.
Germany’s parliament discussed mandatory vaccination Wednesday, with options including a mandate for over 50s only, as well as a mandate for everyone over the age of 18. While there were anti-mandatory vaccination protests outside the German Parliament, they were — Deutsche Welle reports — smaller than anticipated.
The nation’s consideration of the measures follows both Italy and Austria, which have approved similar measures.
Italy made getting jabbed against COVID compulsory for all those in the country over the age of 50 earlier in the month and has also subsequently tightened rules in relation to the nation’s system of COVID passes since the decision.
Greece is now also considering whether to follow suit for a general jab rule, having already mandated that all over-60s take the vaccine last year.
Austria, however, has already passed legislation mandating that all those over the 18 be mandated to get vaccinated against COVID, with those refusing the forced jab facing hefty fines.
The measure has sparked much controversy in the state, with tensions within the nation’s police forces, in particular, coming to the fore in recent days.
One high ranking policeman in the country — who formerly served as head of HR in the Salzburg police and now works within the Ministry of the Interior according to Kronen Zeitung — published a video criticising the measures online.
The officer, Police Colonel Manfred Scheinast, also alleged in the video that it was impossible for those within the force to speak freely regarding the measure due to a fear of severe consequences.
“Who wants to mess things up with their bosses and contradict the politically given opinion?” Scheinast asked according to the Austrian publication.