A number of European nations have registered record jumps in new coronavirus daily cases as the continent grapples with a second wave of Covid-19.
Nnmmmm Many governments have started closing down pubs and bars or limiting their opening hours in hopes of avoiding wider lockdowns.
German capital Berlin is one of many virus hotspots in the country and in Europe. Disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 4,516 new cases of coronavirus overnight on Friday, and many cities have now reached the critical warning level of 50 new infections per 100,000 residents.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that the coming “days and weeks” will decide how the country fares with the pandemic this winter.
“We all feel that the big cities…are now the locations where we see whether we can keep the pandemic under control in Germany, as we have been doing for months now, or whether we will lose control. And that is exactly where we are now,” Merkel said on Friday.
New rules that come into force on Saturday mean bars, restaurants and stores will have to close at 11 p.m. No more than five people will be allowed to gather in a group from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. and no more than 10 people at a time will be allowed to attend gatherings indoors. The measures are expected to remain in place until at least the end of October.
Merkel said her top priority was “not to have to bring economic and public life back down to the level that was necessary in the spring.”
In France, bars and restaurants are shut in four more cities of Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne. Across the country, gatherings are limited to 10 people and wedding receptions, students parties and other organised gatherings in hired locations are banned. Face coverings are compulsory in enclosed public spaces, while specific areas have introduced additional rules. Masks must also be worn in most workplaces.
Similarly, bars and cafes in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, were ordered to close on Thursday for a month in an attempt to rein in soaring infection rates there. People in Belgium must now limit their social contacts to three people per month, with private indoor gatherings limited to four people. Outdoor gatherings are limited to four people, excluding those who live in the same household. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said the restrictions were devised to “avoid a general lockdown” amid a “very worrying” evolution in the spread of the pandemic.
Meanwhile in Spain, the government has ordered a 15-day state of emergency to bring down Covid-19 infection rates in the capital, after a court overturned a partial lockdown imposed a week ago.
Madrid and nine nearby cities will see restrictions on movement enforced. The capital has been at the centre of a political row, with the centre-right city authorities challenging the Socialist government’s demands.
Over in Eastern Europe, Poland reported almost 5,000 new cases and 52 virus-related deaths in the past 24 hours. It’s the third consecutive daily record spike, according to the Health Ministry.
As daily infection rates continue to rise, with the tally more than doubling this week alone, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has admitted that the second wave has arrived.
Heightened restrictions will take effect nationwide from Saturday. All Poles must again wear face masks in public, and numbers at weddings and in cinemas and restaurants will be further reduced.