US Shows No Signs of Loosening COVID Restrictions as Other Nations Roll Back

US Shows No Signs of Loosening COVID Restrictions as Other Nations Roll Back Dr. Rochelle Walensky Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Greg Nash/Getty Images)

By Solange Reyner | Thursday, 03 February 2022 05:11 PM

England, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and several Nordic countries have taken steps to end or loosen COVID-19 restrictions while the U.S. shows no signs of doing the same.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday said the U.S. was still not ready to do so, describing herself as "cautiously optimistic" that Americans were ready to return to normal.

"We really do have to look to our hospitalization rates, and our death rates, to look to when it's time to lift some of these mitigation efforts," Walensky said in explaining why the CDC's guidance on masking remains on the side of caution.

Sweden on Thursday joined other European nations in saying it will remove coronavirus restrictions.

"It is time to open Sweden again," said Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, announcing the restrictions would be removed Feb. 9.

Among the measures and recommendations that will be lifted, Sweden will allow people to return to restaurants with no limitation on how many people can be there, how much space there should be or opening hours. Requirements for vaccine certificates and wearing face masks on public transportation will also be removed, as well as the recommendation to limit social contacts.

On Tuesday, neighboring Denmark took the lead among European Union members by scrapping most restrictions. Hours later, Norway lifted its ban on serving alcohol after 11 p.m. and the cap on private gatherings of no more than 10 people.

COVID cases are plunging in the U.S. but deaths are still on the rise — the virus is killing roughly 2,600 Americans per day.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.