Coronavirus: France and Germany have announced second national lockdowns

France and Germany have announced second national lockdowns.

President Emmanuel Macron confirmed his country’s widely-expected measures, which will last from Friday until 1 December. Schools will remain open.

Measures will include:

Shutting restaurants and bars
Non-essential shops to close
A travel ban between regions
An emphasis on people staying at home
A focus on working from home
Closing external borders outside the Schengen Area
Universities moving to online teaching

The only reasons people should leave their homes, Mr Macron said, will be to buy essential goods, seek medical care, or exercise for an hour a day.

The French president said that COVID-19 was circulating more quickly than had been forecast, and that all regions were on high alert.

He added that the country, along with his European neighbours, had been “submerged by the rapid acceleration of COVID-19”, and that the second wave is likely to be “harder, more deadly” than the first.

France has recently recorded tens of thousands of coronavirus cases a day. This evening it reported 36,437 new cases, up from 33,417 yesterday.

On Tuesday it confirmed its highest daily death count since April, at 523.

And more than half of the country’s intensive care units are filled with COVID-19 patients.

The alternate approach of seeking herd immunity would mean 400,000 excess deaths, Mr Macron predicted.

The move followed similar plans laid out hours earlier by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said her nation will enter a four-week lockdown from 2 November.

Germany’s restrictions, to be reviewed in two weeks, will see:

Bars and pubs to shut
Restaurants to close except for takeaway
Gyms, cinemas and theatres to shut
Indoor gatherings banned for more than 10 people and between more than two households
Hotels to close to tourists – staying open only for “essential reasons”
Shops to stay open but with a maximum of one person per 10 square metres

Ms Merkel said schools, nurseries, and day care centres will stay open. She also “wants to make sure” nursing homes can still have visitors during the lockdown.

She said the “tough measures” were necessary to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed as Germany faces soaring coronavirus deaths and cases.

“We need to take action now,” she said, adding the key to defusing the “very serious” situation was to reduce contacts while limiting damage to the economy.

The chancellor said the number of filled intensive care beds had doubled in 10 days.

Track and trace efforts had become inundated with new cases, leaving the origin of three quarters of infections a mystery.

While the virus is growing exponentially and the “doubling of cases has become faster,” Ms Merkel said she believed this short lockdown could slow it down and ensure hospitals can continue to cope

“If the pace of infections continues like this, then we’ll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks,” she said.

The country’s 16 state governors agreed on the lockdown via a video call.

Earlier on Wednesday, Germany’s disease control agency confirmed a record 14,964 new confirmed coronavirus cases in one day, taking the national total to 449,275.

It also reported 27 more virus-related deaths, raising its total to 10,098, the Robert Koch Institute said.

France and Germany are far from alone in their mounting worry over the rapidly spreading pandemic.

The World Health Organisation warned Europe has faced a 35% spike in deaths in seven days compared to the previous week.

Belgium, the Netherlands, most of Spain and the Czech Republic are seeing similarly high infection rates.

European governments have been desperate to avoid national lockdowns for fear of more economic pain – and protests have broken out in several countries which have toughened measures.

Some anti-lockdown demonstrations have turned violent, including in Italy where far-right demonstrators clashed with police in Rome, Turin and Naples.

Courtesy of Sky News

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