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Western countries move towards easing covid measures

Posted February. 11, 2022 07:37,   

Updated February. 11, 2022 07:37


The policymakers in the U.S. and European countries are gradually moving towards lifting a set of quarantine measures including home isolation care as the Omicron variant is showing signs of abating.

Before the spring season when the virus is known to be less active, many states in the U.S. have stepped up to ramp down quarantine measures as the fatality rate of the current dominant Omicron variant of the coronavirus is much lower compared to Delta.

Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, said that the statewide indoor mask mandate will expire Wednesday. From now on, customers at diners, malls, shops and workspaces are no longer obligated to wear a face mask or verify their vaccination status.

J.B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, also said he will drop the state’s indoor mask mandate starting on Feb. 28, with the exception of schools. Massachusetts will also lift its school mask mandate by the end of this month. As of Wednesday, the daily infection cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. dropped by 63% to 227,903 in two weeks. The number of hospitalizations fell by 29%.

Many countries in Europe are moving towards lifting their quarantine measures altogether as they consider the pandemic to be settling in the form of an endemic now.

In his speech at the House of Commons on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to end the legal requirements to self-isolate after testing positive for the COVID-19 test within this month. France will also lift its vaccine pass policy and indoor mask mandate from public facilities including restaurants and public transportations as early as next month. The German government also announced the plan to lift the vaccine pass requirements from the stores across the nation except groceries and pharmacies, starting on Feb. 16. The Czech Republic and Poland have decided to scrap all quarantine measures as early as in March.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com