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France reports 100,000 daily virus infections for first time

Even the scientific committee advising the Belgian government had not asked for the culture industry closures, leaving virologist Marc Van Ranst to ponder that, in Belgium, “gluhwein beat culture.”

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Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has gone farther than most European countries and shut down all non-essential stores, restaurants and bars and extended the school holidays in a partial new lockdown.

In Britain, where the Omicron variant has been dominant for days, government requirements have been largely voluntary and milder than those on the continent, but the Conservative government said it could impose new restrictions after Christmas. The UK hit a new high of 122,186 daily infections on Friday, but did not report figures for Christmas.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland imposed new restrictions on Sunday on socialising, mainly limiting the size of gatherings, moves that the restaurant, pub and nightclub industries have described as economically devastating.

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