Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU Commission (EC) called on member states yesterday, Wednesday, to enforce epidemiological restrictions and reinforce their respective healthcare systems, Reuters reports.
The EC stressed the importance of limiting social gatherings ahead of the holiday season in order to curb the spread of coronavirus. The EC is urging governments to maintain the stricter epidemiological restrictions many introduced in October and November and to do so through the festive season.
Citizens should practice social distancing and wear face masks during the holidays, the EC suggested. Moreover, if some social distancing restrictions are lifted during the festive season, citizens should be required to self-isolate before and after such gatherings with voluntary quarantine lasting at least one week. In general, the EC recommended that EU member states should think about a ban on mass gatherings and strict regulation of small events.
The EC stressed the importance of a societal approach based on keeping one another safe and cautioned that the coming celebrations should not be allowed to become hotspots. Citizens, it urged, need to continue making sacrifices for safety.
Furthermore, it suggested bloc members should suspend school or mandate a period of online education after Christmas and New Year to prevent a rise in infections.
The Commission urged hospitals to strengthen capacity and to make full use of EU programmes to get hold of protective equipment. Similarly, it called on EU member states to expand their capability of tracking local outbreaks.
The Commission also proposed expanding public transport capacity where possible to avoid overcrowding and said face masks should be mandatory on public transport.
Since EU member states have autonomy in setting national health policies, the EC can only make broad recommendations and try to steer the bloc in a desired direction.
By attempting to coordinate national efforts across the bloc, the EC hopes to avoid a repeat of the uncoordinated and non-matching sets of pandemic restrictions such as were imposed at the outset of the pandemic in Europe.