People from Ireland traveling abroad over the winter will find many countries moving forward with mandatory face masks, in some cases outdoors, as they have to trigger Winter Covid-19 lockdown plans.
New review of public health measures planned in 21 countries has been published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).
It was completed to inform the work of Ireland’s winter planning, which includes public health measures such as B. mandatory face masks, if certain risks arise in winter.
Hiqa’s review found that most countries are taking a holistic approach to their winter flood planning.
“Many require consideration of multiple criteria — for example, the severity of the disease associated with a new variant and the capacity of health services — when determining the threat of a Covid-19 surge,” it said.
“Most countries have planned Covid-19 booster campaigns for specific groups, usually those most at risk of serious illness or those who work in close proximity to them.
“However, some countries, such as the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, have recommended the widespread use of booster doses. Eight of the countries expanded access to the flu vaccine this year.
The review found that only New Zealand specifically references religious activities or religious gatherings in its top-up plan, with face coverings recommended for participants and required for workers and/or volunteers where necessary.
Domestic travel plans have been identified for Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Scotland. These generally included provisions to introduce mandatory face coverings on public transport, with Germany specifying that face coverings will be required on flights and long-distance public transport if nationwide measures are introduced.
As the winter season approaches, there is an increased risk of Covid-19 flare-ups coexisting with flu outbreaks. Most countries in the Hiqa review plan for this.
Capacity limits are used under certain circumstances for cultural, leisure and entertainment activities in Germany, New Zealand, Norway and Scotland. As part of its ramp-up plan, Norway has also charted the possible closure of entertainment venues and arcades, while restaurants may be allowed to operate only for takeaway in certain circumstances.
Norway will limit private indoor events to a maximum of 50 people and public indoor and outdoor events to a range of capacity limits from 50 to 3,000 people, starting from stage four of its five-stage strategy.
New Zealand will limit indoor events to a maximum of 200 people when at the highest tier of their three-tier system.
Scotland has not given a number of people, although it will introduce a legal limit on social gatherings and events where full protection measures are required. Denmark will reintroduce contact-reducing measures and stricter protocols where appropriate.
Hiqa’s Shelley O’Neill said: “As the winter season approaches there is an increased risk of Covid-19 flare-ups co-occurring with flu outbreaks. Most of the countries in our test plan to do this. In Ireland we have already started our winter Covid refresher and flu vaccination campaigns.
“Many countries are preparing to implement other public health measures over the course of the season, in addition to vaccination strategies as needed.
“As with every winter, we advise you to follow cough etiquette, stay home if you have symptoms and take any vaccines recommended for you.”
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