Two of Europe’s largest economies are reinstating some form of national lockdown, as the continent confronts a surge in coronavirus disease cases and deaths occasioned by it.
France announced a second nationwide lockdown and Germany moved to the very edge of one on Wednesday, testing their pandemic-weary populations as they tried to stop a mounting new wave of coronavirus infections from swamping hospitals and undoing hopes of economic recovery.
From Friday people in France will only be allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons.
President Emmanuel Macron said the country risked being “overwhelmed by a second wave that no doubt will be harder than the first”.
Germany, meanwhile, is imposing a “soft” national lockdown.
The measures are less severe than in France, but they include the closure of restaurants, bars, gyms and theatres, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.
Infections are rising sharply across Europe, including the UK which on Wednesday announced 310 new deaths and 24,701 new cases.
In England, a new study shows almost 100,000 people are catching the virus every day, putting pressure on the government to change policy from a regional approach.
In France, COVID daily deaths are at the highest level since April. On Wednesday, 36,437 new cases and 244 deaths were confirmed.