29 October 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.
France will go back into the nationwide lockdown starting from Friday to try to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday. The country has reported over 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and 35,820 deaths so far.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced on Wednesday that German officials have agreed to a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities in a bid to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections. Merkel and the country's 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and easing restrictions, agreed on the partial lockdown in a video conference on Wednesday. It is set to take effect on Monday and last until the end of November.
The new measures Macron announced – which will last until December 1 – 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.
Anyone leaving their home will have to carry a special document justifying being outside, which can be checked by police, he said. Restaurants, cafes and shops not selling essential goods will have to close down for at least the next two weeks.
The new measures echo the eight-week lockdown that France enforced in the spring, when hospitalizations and deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic reached a peak. The lockdown was effective at containing the pandemic, but the virus started spreading again after relaxing rules starting May 11.
France on Tuesday reported 523 new deaths from coronavirus over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April, when the virus was at its most severe.
"All of us in Europe are surprised by the spread of the virus," Macron said in a televised address to the nation. "If we did nothing ... within a few months we would have at least 400,000 additional deaths."
Many epidemiologists have been warning for weeks that European governments have lost control of the latest outbreaks, making lockdowns almost inevitable as a last resort in what has become the global epicenter of the second wave of the pandemic.
In Germany, Chancellor Merkel ordered a new round of shutdowns for the cultural, leisure and food and drink sectors from Monday November 2 until the end of the month, although Germans will not be confined to their homes.
Bars, cafes and restaurants must close, as well as theatres, operas and cinemas. Hotel stays are to be restricted while professional sports, including Bundesliga football, is set to be been pushed back behind closed doors. Shops and schools are to remain open, unlike during Germany's shutdown during the first phase of the pandemic in March and April. Restaurants will be able to provide take-out food.
Merkel appealed to people not to make unnecessary journeys and said hotels won't be able to accommodate people on tourist trips.
The decision came hours after Germany's disease control agency said a record 14,964 new confirmed cases were recorded across the country in the past day, taking the national total in the pandemic to 449,275.
"We can say that our health system can cope with the challenge today," Merkel said. "But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we'll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks."
Ref - CGTN