France will enforce a month-long night curfew in Paris and eight other major cities to fight the "second wave" of the coronavirus, it was announced tonight.
The capital will now be closed for nine hours from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to stop the spread of the disease, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday.
This strict exemption was also applied to Lille, Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier.
All bars, restaurants, theaters and similar shops have to close punctually at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Macron said.
Meanwhile, Italy saw its highest daily increase ever, with 7,332 new cases, while Belgium has warned that intensive care units will reach capacity by mid-November.
In Catalonia, Spain, bars and restaurants were closed today, while schools across Europe are closing again due to stricter restrictions across the continent as those in charge face their nightmare scenario of a Covid-19 resurgence on the eve of winter.
The Spanish region, focused on Barcelona, has closed bars and restaurants for 15 days in a "painful but necessary" measure after adding nearly 11,000 cases in a week.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the nation from the Elysee Palace during a television interview, announcing that Paris and eight other major cities will now be closed for nine hours from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. to slow the spread of Covid-19
France has placed the cities of Toulouse and Montpellier under Covid measures and announced curfews for Paris, Lille, Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier. As in other large EU countries, France is experiencing a second wave of new coronavirus infections
In a live television interview on Wednesday evening, the French Macron confirmed that France is now "hit by the second wave".
"This virus, which we have known from the beginning and which has affected us for eight months, is coming back," he said.
“We haven't lost control. We are in a worrying situation that warrants not being inactive or in a panic.
“It is equally worrying in other European countries such as Germany, which are also adopting restrictive measures.
"Spain and the Netherlands are also in a very worrying situation and have taken very restrictive measures in the last few days."
A state of health in France was declared as the first Covid-19 wave strike in March in response to spiral infections.
Mr Macron said this state of emergency will now be reintroduced along with the other tougher measures from Saturday.
This was followed by the number of Covid-19 infections, which rose by 26,896 within 24 hours on Saturday – a record since the comprehensive tests began.
The last major televised address by Mr Macron was on July 14th on Bastille Day. Since then it has been mandatory to wear face masks.
France was strictly locked for the first time in March when all bars and restaurants were closed and people needed passports to go out for an hour.
A panel of experts set up to assess France's response to the pandemic reported Tuesday that there had been "clear errors in terms of anticipation, preparation and management".
There were particular problems with a shortage of face masks and authorities were slow to introduce testing.
Martin Hirsch, head of the 39 hospitals in the greater Paris area, warned: "By October 24, at least 800 to 1,000 Covid patients will be in the intensive care unit, which corresponds to 70 to 90 percent of our current capacity."
Mr. Macron said unemployment emergency wages of "100 percent for the employer will be reactivated" during the curfew in the leisure sector, including hotels, cafes and restaurants.
The employees would receive 84 percent of the net wage, Macron said.
Mr Macron said he doesn't want people to go bankrupt because of this curfew, as they did during the lockdown.
Those caught on the street after 9:00 p.m. and before 6:00 a.m. will be fined £ 122 (EUR 135) up to £ 1,353 (EUR 1500) for repeat offenders.
Even so, night public transport will continue during the four-week curfew, with ID cards allowed for key workers.
FRANCE: Cyclists pass the Au Chat Noir Bar in Paris, which has been closed due to stricter restrictions due to the coronavirus in Paris
Madrid offered hope that Spain could turn the corner after 5,134 cases over the weekend – the lowest since August. The central region reported an incidence rate of 501 cases per 100,000, a figure that was even lower at 463 per 100,000 on Wednesday.
That rate is almost below the government's announced lockdown-style action threshold, and suggests that the number of new infections has decreased ahead of the introduction of new measures that went into effect in the capital on Friday.
Other regions of Spain, which have seen an increase in certain cases, hope that in these cases too, cases will level off without the need for tighter lockdown measures.
With social life closed again across Europe, some governments were forced to go further than Spain. Czech schools resumed distance learning and hospitals canceled operations, while Moscow also sent students home.
Scientists are warning that the spread of winter flu and the largely indoor European winter life could make the virus even more dangerous in the months ahead as hospitals stretch more and the disease can spread more easily.
SPAIN: The empty terrace of a restaurant in Barcelona today as Catalonia closed bars and restaurants for 15 days to slow rising infections
CZECH REPUBLIC: An empty classroom in Prague where the government has sent children back to distance learning to help curb the worst infection rate in Europe
European leaders are rushing to introduce a new round of restrictions on daily life in the face of increasing coronavirus cases on the continent. Above is the infection rate per million people among a selection of European nations, with the Netherlands and the Czech Republic on the continent being hardest hit
A graph showing the death rate per million people in the same group of nations shows that deaths are well below their first wave peak but are increasing gradually, meaning the virus is more prevalent than it was in summer
Most European nations eased the lockdown over the summer to revive economies headed for an unprecedented downturn since the first wave of the pandemic.
But the return of normal activity – from overcrowded restaurants to new university conditions – has seen surge in all cases across the continent.
Bars and pubs were among the first to close in the new lockdowns or to close earlier, but rising infection rates are also testing governments' determination to keep schools open and maintain medical care free of Covid.
The Czech Republic, with the worst per capita rate in Europe, has switched schools to distance learning and hospitals have started cutting non-urgent medical procedures to free up beds. Bars, restaurants and clubs are closed.
"Sometimes we are on the verge of crying, that happens quite often now," said Lenka Krejcova, a head nurse at the Slany Hospital northwest of Prague.
In an echo of the first wave, builders stormed the hospital's corridors to turn a general ward into a Covid-19 department.
Neighboring Poland reported a record of 6,526 new coronavirus infections and 116 deaths on Wednesday as doctors warned the health system was becoming overloaded.
Poland's ruling nationalists pride themselves on acting swiftly and containing the spring pandemic, but the opposition and doctors have accused the cabinet of failing to prepare the health system for a second wave.
“I don't have good information. We are on the verge of a catastrophe, ”the Polish immunologist Pawel Grzesiowski told the private radio RMF.
He said Poland should do more tests, close schools and help doctors fight the pandemic.
Moscow authorities said Wednesday they would introduce online learning for many students starting Monday, while Northern Ireland announced the closure of a two-week school.
In Russia, where cases have been gradually falling for months, cases have risen again in the past few weeks and today, for the first time, have accumulated more than 14,000 cases in 24 hours.
Unlike in Western Europe, the daily death toll in Russia is higher than in the first wave. The average deaths are approaching 200 per day.
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on the far right of the picture greeted the pilgrims in the Vatican today. He wasn't wearing a mask, but went straight to the stage through a back door instead of wading into the crowd
ITALY: The Mediterranean country has seen a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in recent days, hitting a new record of 7,332 new infections today and 43 deaths, most since June
RUSSIA: Medical workers in full protective suits care for a Covid patient in a clinical research center in Moscow, where cases have increased sharply again
RUSSIA: Cases (left) climbed to an all-time high of 14,231 today, while deaths (right), unlike most Western European countries, have also risen above their spring and summer peaks
GERMANY: Empty tables outside a restaurant in Berlin, one of the cities that agreed new restrictions with Angela Merkel last week
GERMANY: Cases have risen sharply, while deaths have risen sharply today in a country that has so far managed to keep the death rate relatively low
Berlin gives the rule violations the middle finger
Berlin has taken a novel approach to encourage the wearing of masks with a poster showing an elderly woman giving rule violations the middle finger.
The ad, titled "We adhere to the corona rules," launched on Tuesday with a picture of the woman cursing while wearing a floral face cover.
In case the message wasn't clear enough, it was labeled with a "raised finger for anyone without a mask".
However, the campaign was scrapped today after critics said it was divisive and unfair to people with valid reasons not to wear masks.
Berlin makes its point about rule violations
Christian Taenzler, a spokesman for the Visit Berlin Board who started the campaign, said it was a "provocative" image and had received some positive feedback.
He said while the middle finger picture was dropped, a campaign based on the city's famously dry humor would continue.
Marcel Luthe, a member of the Berlin State Assembly, said he had filed a formal complaint with the police about the complaint.
Luthe argued that the advertisements sparked hatred of those who cannot wear a mask, such as young children and those with hearing or other health problems.
Berlin is one of the eleven cities that agreed new restrictions with Angela Merkel last week. These occur when a city hits 50 cases per 100,000 people per week.
This includes a nightly curfew in bars and restaurants after the city's mayor Michael Mueller said large groups of people contributed to a surge in infections.
The larger economies of Germany, the UK and France have so far resisted pressure to close schools, which created difficulties during the spring lockdowns.
Daily infections in Europe averaged nearly 100,000 a day, forcing governments to put in place a number of tightening restrictions.
“It's a mess, it's a mess, my son, what can I tell you? We really don't know how we'll end, ”said an Italian pensioner in Rome.
In Italy, which suffered Europe's first major outbreak in February and March, the average daily cases have risen to over 5,000, with the number of deaths also increasing.
Today's 7,332 new cases brought in more than 372,000 cases, while a further 43 deaths, the highest since June, brought the number to 36,289.
Pope Francis, 83, appeared again today without a face mask when speaking to well-wishers in the Vatican, despite walking straight to the stage through a back door instead of wading into the crowd to kiss babies and hug the sick.
Francis apologized to the faithful for not being able to greet them and shaking hands after the Vatican tightened its rules in line with the rest of Italy.
This week, four of the Pope's Swiss guardsmen tested positive for the coronavirus and were isolated.
There were a total of 19 cases in the Vatican. The Vatican has changed its mask mandates to suit all of Italy and to encourage them both indoors and outdoors.
The Netherlands returned to the "partial lockdown" on Wednesday, closing bars and restaurants but keeping schools open.
In Germany, politicians are debating whether to extend the Christmas and New Year break to stop the contagion of children, which is spreading to the wider community.
However, critics say there is no evidence that schools were sources of infection.
According to a draft strategy paper, Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to tighten the measures, including the demand for masks in more places.
Proposals to be discussed with regional prime ministers would put restrictions in place once an area records 35 infections per 100,000 people per week instead of 50.
Merkel has repeatedly raised the alarm about the contagion in the past few days and urged the country not to waste its early success in keeping numbers manageable.
She has said her priority is keeping schools and the economy open, but infections continued to rise today, with more than 5,000 cases in 24 hours.
The draft document asks Citizens "should always critically weigh whether, how and to what extent private parties are necessary and justified".
It also warned that more restrictions could be imposed if the upward trend in new infections is maintained.
Lothar Wieler, head of the German disease control authority RKI, called on groups in need of protection this year to carry out their seasonal flu vaccinations in order to avoid that the health system is overwhelmed with both flu and Covid-19 diseases.
"We are in a situation where I think we can still flatten the exponential growth, but we all have to work hard to do that," he said.
NETHERLANDS: Men in a bar listen as Prime Minister Mark Rutte announces a month-long national shutdown starting Wednesday, which will close all bars and restaurants
HOLLAND: A huge surge in Dutch virus cases has catapulted the Netherlands into the top 10 countries in the world by infection rate, and ministers are struggling to get the outbreak under control
The five largest cities in France – Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Lille – were already on high alert before Macron's announcement on Wednesday. Bars and gyms were closed and restaurants were under strict control.
Almost 9,000 people are now in French hospitals with Covid-19, the highest level since the end of June, with more than 1,000 hospitalized on Tuesday alone.
While France has expanded ICU capacity since the first wave, the number of people in need has also risen steadily to its highest level since May.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced opposition demands to impose another national lockdown in England, but has so far resisted.
However, the hospital admissions are climbing and field hospitals, which were set up for the first time in the spring, are being prepared again.
In Spain, the bar and restaurant closings in Catalonia will take effect on Thursday evening and will initially remain in effect for 15 days.
The country is the first in the European Union to hit 900,000 infections after adding more than 11,000 confirmed cases on Wednesday.
The Spanish Ministry of Health says it has confirmed 908,056 infections since the pandemic began, which is the seventh in the world.
Spain appeared to have turned a corner last week as the average number of daily cases fell, but over the past week they have risen again. However, in cases in Madrid currently imposed by the central government, cases have flattened out, suggesting that the average cases are rising again due to spikes in other parts of the country. Meanwhile, the number of daily deaths has remained relatively constant over the past month, with pressures on the health system remaining stable
France ranks next in the EU with more than 750,000 cases, although the exact number of cases in each country depends on the number of tests.
More than 5,000 new cases were diagnosed in Spain between Tuesday and Wednesday, with Madrid accounting for around 2,200 of those cases, according to the ministry.
The Spanish authorities have confirmed 33,413 deaths from COVID-19, ranking eighth in the world. Health experts believe the real number is much higher due to a lack of testing.
In Belgium, hospitals with the second worst per capita infection rate in Europe must now reserve a quarter of their beds for Covid-19 patients.
"We can't see the end of the tunnel today," said Renaud Mazy, director of the Saint-Luc University Clinics in Brussels, to Belgian radio La Premiere.
Belgian intensive care units will be busy until mid-November, if cases continue to rise at the same pace, the country's health authorities warned on Wednesday.
All virus indicators have worsened in the last few weeks as the new surge in infections is also translating into rising hospital admissions and deaths.
On Wednesday, 1,621 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in Belgian hospitals, 281 of them in intensive care, while 33 deaths were recorded.
"We will reach our maximum capacity of 2,000 beds in intensive care units by mid-November if this kind of increase continues," said Yves Van Laethem, spokesman for the crisis center. "We absolutely have to avoid this scenario."
According to Van Laethem, 152 new patients were admitted to Belgian hospitals every day over the past week, an increase of 80 percent.
Belgium introduced a number of measures last week including curfews on site, closing bars in Brussels for at least a month and restricting indoor sports activities.
Van Laethem said the country is currently the second worst in Europe after the Czech Republic in terms of new coronavirus infections.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Nachrichten (t) Coronavirus (t) Spain (t) Germany