Europe back into new lockdown

The governments are trying to contain the coronavirus flare-up

Chairs are stacked up outside an empty restaurant in the centre of Lille, northern France.

French President Emmanuel Macron declared a new nationwide lockdown from 30 October to stem a surge in coronavirus patients in hospitals, warning that the second wave of the virus is “likely to be deadlier than the first”. In a prime-time televised address, Macron said the lockdown would be enforced initially until 1 December, though schools and creches will remain open.

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” Macron said. He added that lockdown measures would be gradually eased once new daily infections drop below the 5,000-mark, from a current average of 40,000. The new measures will mean people have to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or use their daily one-hour allocation of exercise. Cafes, restaurants and shops will shut down unless they are deemed to be selling essential goods, such as supermarkets and pharmacies. People will still be allowed to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home.

A partial lockdown enters into force from 2 November in Germany in an attempt to bring Covid-19's spread under control. The new restrictions, widely dubbed as “lockdown light”, were approved during a videoconference meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany's 16 state governors. Bars and clubs will be closed, restaurants will be limited to delivery and carry-out service, and people will only be allowed to meet outside with members of another household in groups of no more than 10. Cinemas and other entertainment venues will be closed, professional sports are only allowed without spectators. Schools and nurseries will remain open. Retail stores will remain open, but there are restrictions on how many customers may be inside at a time.

In Italy, protests turned violent after the introduction of new restrictions. The northern cities of Milan and Turin saw scenes of unrest from 26 October, after the Italian government imposed the most severe restrictions since the end of the lockdown in June. Hundreds gathered outside the offices of the regional government in Milan, with some throwing stones, petrol bombs and fireworks. In Turin, shop windows were smashed and stock looted. Under the latest rules, all bars and restaurants must close by 6pm local time. Cinemas, theatres, gyms, pools and concert halls will also have to shut.

The Spanish parliament voted to extend the country’s state of emergency for six more months on Thursday as the Health Ministry reported another record surge in coronavirus cases. The state of emergency gives Spain’s regional governments more legal backing for measures that infringe on basic rights like curfews or restricting mobility.

In most Central and Eastern European countries, new measures have also been announced in an attempt to stop the coronavirus flare-up. High numbers of infected medics are observed in most of them.

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