The COVID-19 pandemic has further turned the life of the planet upside down in the run up to the winter holidays season.
Despite optimistic messages regarding mass vaccination, the end of the nightmare and the return to normality seem to be faraway targets. As of Monday, Romania will suspend, for 14 days, all flights to and from Great Britain. The measure applies to all airports in Romania. Also, according to the decision made by the National Committee for Emergency Situations in Bucharest on Sunday evening, people arriving to Romania from the UK will be quarantined. Other EU countries have equally decided to suspend flights from and to Great Britain: namely Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland and France.
The measures were announced after Great Britain, one of the European countries worst hit by the pandemic, with almost 70 thousand deaths reported, identified a new SARS-CoV-2 virus variant, which is considered more contagious. The British PM Boris Johnson says the new variant of the new coronavirus is by up to 70% more transmissible, consequently the British government decided to give up the relaxation of some restrictions for 5 days during the holiday period. Matt Hancock, the British Secretary of State for Health and Social Care admits that the situation is not under control for the moment, that there are regions where an outbreak of new cases of contamination has been reported and that sanctions are needed to set things in order.
For the time being, Great Britain is facing an exodus, as Londoners were crowding to railway stations and highways on Saturday night in an attempt to leave the city before the new restrictions announced by the PM were implemented. Boris Johnson had announced that high-level alert restrictions, comparable to the lockdown measures imposed in spring, would be enforced in London and in extensive regions in the south-east of England, which have a total population of 16 million. The trains leaving London were overcrowded and passengers complained that they could not observe the social distance in crowded compartments.
A political opponent of the PM, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, labeled the introduction of restrictions as ‘devastating’ and considered that what was happening in the train stations was a direct consequence of the chaotic way in which the announcement was made and of the government’s failure to make the announcement in due time. Panic and chaos are intensified, according to commentators, by the deadlock reached, only 10 days ahead of the deadline, by the post-Brexit trade negotiations between London and Brussels. If negotiations fail, as has actually been anticipated by many, the introduction of customs formalities will seriously disrupt supply flow to the UK, as the ministers in Boris Johnson’s government have themselves admitted. (tr. L. Simion)