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Pursue measures on physical distancing, use of masks, hand washing and other hygiene measures as they continue to be key to contain virus spread in social gatherings, both indoors and outdoors, and in families with people at higher risk.
Put measures in place to ensure appropriate care for vulnerable people, particularly in case of restrictions and closures; e.g. elderly people who live alone or in residential care (for both need to ensure continued access to health and social care, measures to prevent loneliness and isolation), people suffering from mental ill-health and people experiencing homelessness. Also ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with the appropriate care and information in accessible formats. Consider not allowing any mass gatherings, and define clear criteria for the exceptional events that can go ahead, e.g. maximum number of people allowed for indoor and outdoor social gatherings and specific control measures.
Define clear criteria for small social gatherings, small events, e.g. maximum number of people allowed to ensure compliance with physical distancing rules and use of masks. Continue to set clear criteria for household gatherings (i.e. maximum number of people per household gathering).
If considered, any temporary loosening of rules on social gatherings and events should be accompanied by strict requirements for people to self-quarantine before and after for a number of days (preferably at least seven).
Encourage employers to allow people to work from home or from the place where they intend to spend their end-of-year festivities some days before and after –preferably around seven days, whenever possible. This will allow workers to self-quarantine before engaging in social or household gatherings, or events and/or before coming back to workplaces. Where the remote working is not possible, employers must put in place measures that would allow safe return to work
If considered, when loosening restrictions, implement the use of “household bubbles”,
which means that people are encouraged to spend the days of the festivities with the same people and to reduce further social contacts.
Remind citizens that they should be particularly careful concerning contacts with older family members or those who belong to specific groups at risk for severe COVID-19, such as people with chronic diseases13.
Introduce or maintain night time curfews.
Provide guidance and advice on overnight visitors and visits to households (particularly in case of night curfews). Encourage the organization of online social gatherings and events, such as workplace end-of-year celebrations.
In order to reduce transmission risks in the period following the festive season, consider extending school holidays or introducing a period of online learning as away of introducing a buffer period and avoiding infections to be brought into schools. In such cases it will be important to specify a date several days before the return to school by which time families with children and educators are asked to have returned home in case they have travelled.
In case of ceremonies, consider avoiding large services or using online, TV or radio broadcasts, allocating specific spots for close families (“household bubbles”) to sit together, and banning of communal singing. The use of masks is particularly relevant during these types of gatherings.
Ensure sufficient testing capacities and materials, and set a target for testing rates per 100.000 population.
Ensure easy and free access to testing for citizens with quick results.
Focus efforts on ensuring a short testing turn-around-time to facilitate the swift identification of positive COVID-19 cases; in the case of RT-PCR, the testing turn-around-time should be less than 24 hours and the use of rapid antigen tests could be explored in case of limited RT-PCR testing capacity and increased testing turn-around-times where appropriate.
Investigate the use of rapid tests in addition to RT-PCR where appropriate, and focus efforts on early detection of most infectious cases and quick self-isolation of these individuals.
Rapid antigen tests are best used in high prevalence settings and up to five days post symptom onset. Rapid antigen tests should go through independent clinical validation and mutual recognition of results between countries should be ensured, as elaborated on in the Commission Recommendation published on 28 October. Strengthen the deployment of digital contact tracing and warning Apps or manual contract tracing if more appropriate.
Where available, encourage persons who intend to travel to get the season flu vaccine. Reinforce communication campaigns to strongly discourage persons with symptoms of COVID-19 from traveling.
Where possible, public transport options and capacities should be increased to reduce crowding, particularly on days or at times expected to be relatively busier to ensure social distancing.The use of masks should be compulsory in public transport and all vehicles should be well ventilated.
Ensure that workers in transport, tourism and other exposed sectors are provided with necessary information and protection measures to ensure their own health and safety. Ensure that if quarantine and testing of travelers is requested (i.e. in the situation where a country has reduced transmission levels to close to zero), these requirements are proportionate, non-discriminatory, clearly communicated and easily followed, and assess how testing can lead to lifting of quarantine or other restrictions for travelers.
Where quarantine requirements are imposed for travel from a high-risk area, consider shortening required quarantine time should a negative PCR test be obtained after 7 days upon return.
Ensure that travel infrastructure, including control stations, is prepared, equipped and manned, respecting the hygiene protocols in place, so that risks to travelers are minimized as far as possible by reducing to the minimum waiting times, crowding and congestion.
Ensure that national measures are aligned with the principles and mechanisms of Council Recommendation 2020/1475 on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Join the exchange platform developed by EASA to enhance contact tracing capabilities based on PLFs and support efforts towards a common EU digital PLF.
Ensure that healthcare services are reinforced for increased hospital and ICU admissions in view of the upcoming festive season, for example by putting in place specific COVID-19 business continuity plans, surge capacities in staff and equipment that ensure maintaining healthcare personnel capacity while at the same time allowing some reprieve.
Take steps to maximise the accessibility of primary care service to alleviated pressure on hospitals, including by expanding the role of nurses, pharmacists and community health workers, and via increasing the use of telehealth services, to preserve continuity of care for non-COVID‑19 patients.
Carefully monitor capacities of required healthcare equipment and materials, and make use of the relevant Joint Procurements and other financial support, including the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII)28made available by the Commission.
Countries should develop integrated strategies for their healthcare systems, ensuring that care for diseases and medical problems other than those linked to COVID-19 can continue and be safeguarded.
Continue investing in the training of new staff, including via the Online European network of clinicians and development of training modules on COVID-19 for health professionals (including via a virtual academy) in partnership with European federations, such as the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine.
Encourage citizens to follow up all necessary medical services, including those taking place in hospitals.
Healthcare facilities should further ensure that the most protective PPE is available now and in the months to come and appropriately used to safeguard those providing patient and resident care.
Support healthcare personnel to cope with increased pressure due to the pandemic(e.g. by putting in place free of charge support hotlines, free peer support service, provide information to help manage wellbeing and mental health).
116.ADDRESSING “PANDEMIC FATIGUE
”The resurgence of COVID-19 this autumn inevitably brought disappointment to Europeans having to face restrictions they had thought they had left behind. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 60% of countries in the European region are currently experiencing a form of “pandemic fatigue”29. People are tired of taking the necessary precautionary actions, including physical distancing, reduced social interactions and economic restrictions. This makes essential restrictions more difficult to implement, and provides fertile ground for disinformation about the pandemic.Pandemic fatigue is an expected and natural response to a prolonged public health crisis on the scale of COVID-19. It is therefore important for Member States to address and recognise this problem. The WHO Regional Office for Europe has developed guidance to support countries in developing multifactorial action plans to maintain and reinvigorate public support for protective behaviours30. In addition to the pandemic fatigue, the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of populations should not be underestimated. The concern and destabilization felt by the population at large can be particularly acute amongst the most vulnerable groups such as older adults or people with underlying health conditions, those living alone, or persons with disabilities. Health and care workers are particularly exposed, and best practices to reduce the impact on these and other front-line workers should be promoted.The main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures are introduced –especially stay-at-home policies, quarantine and prolonged curfews and their effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods –levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm, domestic violence or suicidal behaviour also rise. Member States should be addressing these issues and ensure that appropriate measures and services are put in place for those in need.
Clearly communicate to citizens and communities on new measures, the reasons why these are being implemented and when and how they might be lifted. If possible, link it to certain targets, such as the reproduction value, to make the measures tangible and understandable. Citizen ́s buy in and compliance with measures is essential.
Ensure the availability of and easy access to mental health and psycho-social support services for people in need, including front line and essential workers or service providers(e.g. free of charge support hotlines). Provide support to persons with disabilities and vulnerable populations.
The Health policy platform has brought stakeholders together to identify numerous best practices from the first wave of the pandemic which could be promoted with Commission support at the request of Member States ____________ Onze democratische rechtstaat wordt volledig uitgehold. De federale en gewestelijke beleidsmakers hebben de Belgische soevereiniteit opgeofferd aan de EU Commissie die bestaat uit 27 leden ( één politieke vertegenwoordiger per lidstaat ). De Europese Commissie handelt systematische tegen de Resoluties van het Europees Parlement ( 750 rechtstreeks verkozen volksvertegenwoordigeres ) en de Europese Raad. Zo ondermeer de Resolutie van het EP van 13.11.2020 waarin op zeer omstandige gemotiveerde wijze alle lidstaten aanbevolen worden om de lock-down niet meer als hoofdmiddel te hanteren ter bestrijdiging van het virus en indringend verzoek tot afschaffing van de maatregelen. Het Europees Parlement is samen met de Europese Raad het opperste orgaan van de EU. Hoe het desalniettemin mogelijk is dat de Europese Commissie alle macht naar zich toe trekt, Resolutie van het Europees Parlement onder de mat veegt en ook de lidstaten - waaronder België - er toe brengt om de Resoluties van het Europees Parlement te negeren en de "recommendations " van de Europeses Commissie klakkeloos tot op de letter uit te voeren ongeacht hoe de werkelijke toestand in elk land is, laat mij zonder meer perplex.