EU: "Saving lives has to come before celebrations this year"

Commission urges the need to stay vigilant over Christmas so as not to suffer a third wave in January

Brussels fears a third wave of coronavirus in January if restrictions are relaxed this Christmas. On the same day as  the government of the Generalitat announced that it plans to relax the curfew on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and the Epiphany, the European Commission is asking European governments not to relax: "This year saving lives has to come before the celebrations," says Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who on Wednesday presented a series of recommendations to ensure safety this winter.

She also told EU health ministers, with whom she met virtually, that "relaxing measures too early can lead to more cases, more deaths and more confinement. If we are not very careful in the coming weeks, we will see it again in January," she warned them. Kyriakides has been sending out warnings for weeks. The European Commission, with almost no competence in the health field, has stepped on the accelerator to acquire doses of all potential coronavirus vaccines and is now demanding that "until the vaccines arrive and can be sufficiently distributed", containment measures continue, and "especially at the end of the holiday period".

Kyriakides has insisted to ministers that Christmas is especially dangerous: in winter the possibilities of contagion are multiplied by the fact of being in closed spaces and the holiday meetings become clusters of contagion. This is why the Cypriot Commissioner has repeatedly claimed that it is time to show that the lessons of relaxing measures over summer have been learned.

Christmas trips and the vaccination campaign

This is why Brussels has presented a strategy of recommendations on Wednesday, in which it mainly asks that basic containment measures, such as limitations on social contacts and physical distance, be kept in place. It also asks that notice be taken of the possible increase in travel in the run-up to Christmas to ensure safety. "Transport infrastructure needs to be prepared and quarantines are worse at origin than at destination". The Commission is also calling for psychological support to be made available to citizens, because the "fatigue" of the pandemic must be taken into account.

But, above all, the Commission puts a lot of emphasis on the need to have all the logistics ready for the vaccination campaign after the European Medicines Agency opened the door to a possible approval of the vaccines before the end of the year and that several states already consider being able to start in January. In fact, the UK already authorised the Pfizer vaccine this Wednesday.

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