Covid in Europe: which countries have highest case rates, and where are there new lockdown restrictions?

Austria has implemented a new Covid lockdown as cases surge amid a low vaccination uptake

Covid-19 cases are rising in some parts of Europe, with some countries entering lockdown or putting extra restrictions in place in response to the surge.

Austria recently announced Covid vaccinations will be made mandatory as the country enters another nationwide lockdown, but what are the current Covid cases elsewhere in Europe and which other countries have put extra measures in place?

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What are the Covid case rates in Europe?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Europe is once again "at the epicentre" of the Covid pandemic and could see half a million more deaths by February 2022.

WHO Europe head Hans Kluge has blamed insufficient vaccine take-up for the rise.

Many European countries have recently seen an increase in cases of Covid-19 driven by the Delta variant of the virus, including Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and Poland.

The UK currently has one of the highest rates of covid infection in Europe, but its relatively high level of vaccination has reduced the number of hospitalisations and deaths.

According to figures from OurWorldInData, the EU’s average has quadrupled in recent weeks from just over 110 daily new cases per million people on 1 October to 446 on Thursday 18 November.

Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Belgium, Czech Republic and the Netherlands have all seen a recent rise in Covid-19 infections, as well as Spain, Portugal and France.

Austria, which is the least vaccinated population of western Europe at just 64%, has 1,395 cases per million.

In France, the rate is 201 daily infections per million, Italy 138, and Spain 95, which is the same as Portugal, Finland and Sweden.

Poland has 154,317 new infection cases, the Netherlands has 156,921, the Czech Republic 117,40, and Belgium has 85,30, according to WHO.

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What rules have been put in place?

Austria, which has high cases of Covid, but a low vaccination uptake, announced on Friday 19 November that Covid-19 vaccination would become a legal requirement, becoming the first country to make Covid vaccines mandatory.

The new rules are set to come into force in February, but a new national lockdown was also announced, which has now come into place.

The Netherlands has also imposed a three-week nationwide partial lockdown, forcing restaurants to shut earlier and banning fans at sports events.

This was been met with rioting in Rotterdam, with hundreds of protesters gathering to show their anger at government plans for more restrictions.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have also tightened restrictions on people who have not had Covid vaccines in an attempt to urge more people to get vaccinated amid surging infections.

The Czech government approved plans to allow only people who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months to enter restaurants, attend certain events and use various other services from Monday 22 November.

Slovakia also took a similar step, in what Prime Minister Eduard Heger called a “lockdown for the unvaccinated”.

In Germany, restrictions have been put in place in areas that pass a threshold of three people hospitalised with Covid per 100,000 inhabitants.

In areas that breach this limit, access to public spaces such as sporting and cultural venues or restaurants will be limited to people who are vaccinated against Covid-19, or have previously had Covid and have recovered.

Portugal has also reintroduced tighter pandemic restrictions to contain a new surge in infections. The country is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world, with 8% of their populations fully vaccinated.

Face masks have once again become mandatory and the country tightened control of its borders.

A digital certificate proving vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 is required to access restaurants, cinemas and hotels.

In Spain visitors from the United Kingdom who are not EU residents will have to be fully vaccinated to enter, while those from ‘high-risk’ areas will need to provide a negative Covid test in addition to proof of vaccination

In France, the Paris police chief announced that face masks will become compulsory in certain outdoor spaces in the city and in all indoor public spaces, including venues covered by the health pass, such as cinemas and bars, which were previously exempt.

Local authorities in the rest of the country also have the power to impose extra mask rules for outdoor public spaces.

In Switzerland, all UK visitors now have to show both a negative PCR test result, taken within the 72 hours prior to arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in the country.