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European markets adopt stringent Covid measures

France, Germany, Spain and N.Ireland are among the countries that have introduced tough new restrictions to try to curb spiralling infection rates

By IQ on 15 Oct 2020

Emmanuel Macron, World Economic Forum

French president Emmanuel Macron has declared a public health emergency

image © World Economic Forum/swiss-image.ch/Michele Limina

Across Europe, governments are introducing tough new restrictions in an attempt to battle a second wave of coronavirus.

France has declared a public health emergency after confirming 22,951 cases of Covid-19 yesterday (14 October).

President Emmanuel Macron has reacted by imposing a night-time curfew in the capital Paris and its suburbs, as well as Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Toulouse, Grenoble and Montpellier, affecting 20 million people out of a total population of some 67 million.

The 9 pm–6 am curfew will come into effect from Saturday and last for at least four weeks, with a view to extending to six.

“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” said president Macron during a television address yesterday.

“We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus”

Elsewhere, Germany has announced a “hotspot strategy” to tackle its cases, which are today at the highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic, with 6,638 recorded cases.

If an area records more than 35 new infections per 100,000 people over seven days, masks will become mandatory in all places where people have close contact for an extended period. The number of people allowed to gather will also be limited to 25 in public and 15 in private spaces.

Once a threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 is exceeded, even tougher restrictions will apply. These include limiting private gatherings to 10 people or two households, and the closure of restaurants after 11 pm.

“I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic,” said chancellor Angela Merkel.

Earlier today, Spain‘s north-eastern region of Catalonia forced bars and restaurants to close for 15 days. Once again, venues will have to operate at 50% in accordance with the new measures adopted by the Generalitat, after less than a month of operating at 70% in many Catalan municipalities.

All cultural activities must end – and venues must close – before 11 pm. Spectators must always be seated and in a pre-assigned seat.

“I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic”

Northern Ireland has imposed a four-week circuit breaker lockdown, forcing the closure of non-essential retail outlets, gyms, pools, leisure centres, as well as the hospitality sector – excluding takeaways and deliveries.

Infection rates “must be turned down now or we will be in a very difficult place very soon indeed,” first minister Arlene Foster told lawmakers in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Yesterday, a partial lockdown came into force in the Netherlands, limiting music venues and theatres to a maximum of 30 visitors, in conjunction with the pre-existing metre-and-a-half rule and the rule that no more than four people may attend a performance or concert together.

The new restrictions also include a widespread ban on outdoor events and a ban on alcohol consumption in public areas between 8 pm and 7 am. Discotheques and night clubs must now remain closed until a coronavirus vaccine is on the market.

The measures came into effect yesterday (14 October) and will remain in place for at least two weeks, after which the cabinet will assess the infection rate and decide on next steps.

Czech Republic, which has the highest rate of infection in Europe over the past two weeks at 581.3 cases per 100,000 people, has imposed a three-week partial lockdown, shutting schools, bars and clubs until 3 November.


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