Omicron is threatening to cripple hospitals in Germany while the Dutch government has announced additional curbs as EU governments race to curb the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
European stock markets have closed lower amid rising numbers of omicron coronavirus cases in Europe and related lockdowns.
The STOXX Europe 600, which includes around 90 percent of the market capitalisation of the European market in 17 countries, fell 6.55 points, or 1.38 percent, to 467.35.
London’s FTSE 100 declined 71 points, or 0.99 percent, to end the day at 7,198, while Germany’s DAX 30 was the worst performer of the day, losing 292 points, or 1.88 percent, to close at 15,239.
France’s CAC 40 fell 56 points, or 0.82 percent, to 6,870 and Italy’s FTSE MIB 30 dropped 433 points, or 1.63 percent, to end the day at 26,177.
Spain’s IBEX 35 declined 69 points, or 0.83 percent, to finish at 8,242.
“Headlines about booster shots working against the Omicron variant are providing little support, but if we are heading towards more movement restrictions and as long as virus cases continue to rise, we will see stock markets remain under pressure for a while,” said Equiti Capital analyst David Madden.
Economies are taking a hit as the fast-spreading Omicron Covid-19 strain forces governments to reimpose containment measures and consumers stay at home.
In Germany, the rapid growth of omicron cases is threatening to cripple already overwhelmed hospitals, according to Gerald Gass, head of the German Hospital Federation.
In the Netherlands, the government announced additional measures, including a 10-day mandatory quarantine for passengers traveling from the UK, as well as certain other restrictions for visitors from other EU and Schengen countries to stem omicron’s spread.
The UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday there were 12,133 more confirmed cases of omicron over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 37,101.
Britain may impose new restrictions to slow the spread of the Omicron variant after Christmas, media reported on Monday, a day after the Netherlands began a fourth lockdown and as other European nations consider putting a squeeze on Christmas.
The European Union has meanwhile approved a vaccine from US company Novavax as its fifth official Covid jab, which uses a more conventional technology that the biotech firm hopes will reduce vaccine hesitancy.