Coronavirus 2nd Wave: Lockdown Measures Toughen Up Across Europe

Written by | Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Most European countries have been faced with a massive increase in coronavirus cases and deaths. Austria is closing schools and non-essential shops, two weeks after a partial lockdown and night-time curfew failed to stem the virus from spreading across the country. The new restrictions, announced by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, begin on Tuesday (17 November) and run until 6 December. Free movement will also be strictly limited to limited circumstances, such as work, essential shopping or exercise. In Germany, its federal government and states are considering tighter COVID-19 restrictions, such as dramatically reducing the number of people at private gatherings and compulsory mask wearing for school students. Chancellor Angela Merkel today has discussed potential new measures with the heads of the country’s 16 states via video conference. According to the proposals, children and young people are to be encouraged to meet with only one particular friend regularly in their free time. Similarly, families are to limit private get-togethers to their own household and people from one other particular household.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the regions of Campania and Tuscany officially became coronavirus red zones on Sunday (15 November), the latest signals of the dire condition of Italian hospitals struggling with a surge of new admissions. The director of the National Health Institute, Gianni Rezza, said the stricter measures were justified by a “worrisome increase in hospitalizations” as Italy’s rate of new confirmed cases reached 650 per 100,000 people. In Greece, deaths from the coronavirus have topped 1,000 in Greece, and authorities say that over half occurred since 18 October. The Greek government has decided to shut down elementary schools, kindergartens and day care centers for two weeks starting Monday (17 November). Authorities have also stepped up controls and enforcement of a 9pm-5am curfew, including by making arrests.
The UK has announced 462 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours, up from 376 on Friday, and 26,860 more cases of the virus. CEOs from more than 60 leading retailers in the UK have warned that unless all shops are allowed to reopen by the start of December, hundreds of thousands of retail jobs are at risk and “many stores may never reopen”. In Netherlands, Saint Nicholas, the gift-bearing patron saint of children, arrived on Saturday (14 November) amid a partial coronavirus lockdown that forced the cancellation of celebrations in many towns and cities. A nationally televised arrival celebration went ahead Saturday without the usual crowds of thousands of children. Police near Paris have intervened to break up a middle-of-the-night house party attended by an estimated 300-400 people in a blatant flouting of health rules in the midst of the country’s second lockdown. Police are out in force around France to enforce the rules of a national lockdown which began two weeks ago and is expected to remain in place at least until early December.

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