France announces second national lockdown

1 month ago 8

French President Macron has announced a new nationwide lockdown today, stating that 'France could never standby and see hundreds of thousands of its citizens die.'

The national measure will take effect from Friday morning and is considered to be 'more flexible' than the lockdown first imposed on France in March, with all public services to remain open. 

Macron told the country: ‘I decided that it was necessary to insist on a lockdown throughout the country from Friday'. 

He continued: 'We've already reached 58 per cent capacity in IC units. In numerous places we have seen life saving operations delayed. And 9,000 patients will be in ICU by mid November - that's our maximum capacity in France.'

The new measures - which Macron called 'heartbreaking' - will mean people have to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or use their daily one-hour allocation of exercise.

People will still be allowed to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home, and - in a departure from the previous lockdown in March - most schools will remain open, Macron said in his address.

The national measure will take effect from midnight on Friday and is considered to be 'more flexible' than the lockdown first imposed on France in March

FRENCH LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS: 

ONLY LEAVE HOME FOR 'ESSENTIAL' JOURNEYS

Macron said it would be similar to a lockdown in spring, when people were allowed outside for medical reasons, for essential work, to attend school, to make essential purchases or for one hour of daily exercise. 

ANYONE OUTSIDE MUST CARRY DOCUMENTS

This must justify their reason for being outside. 

POLICE CHECKS ON PEOPLE WHO LEAVE HOME

As in Spring, police can issue fines and even prison sentences if necessary.

BARS AND RESTAURANTS SHUT

Unless they are deemed to be selling essential goods, such as supermarkets and pharmacies. This can be reviewed after two weeks. 

ALL BUT 'ESSENTIAL' WORKPLACES SHUT

All those who can work from home should do so.

RESTRICTIONS FROM FRIDAY TO DECEMBER 1

The measures are to come into effect from 00:01 am on Friday morning.

CARE HOME VISITS ALLOWED

BORDERS OUTSIDE EU REMAIN CLOSED

Bars and restaurants will shut down from Friday, causing further economic chaos in a country where such businesses have already been badly hit by Covid-19. 

The new measures echo the eight-week lockdown that France enforced in the spring, when hospitalisations and deaths caused by the COVID-19 epidemic reached a peak.

But unlike the previous lockdown, most schools are to remain as their closure was 'too damaging'. He has also urged citizens to order in meals from restaurants to keep the economy going.

France on Tuesday reported 523 new deaths from coronavirus and 33,417 new confirmed cases over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since April, when the virus was at its most severe. Doctors have warned that intensive care units risk becoming overwhelmed.  

Macron continued: 'We are currently overwhelmed at the pace with which this virus is spreading as winter approaches and the temperatures outside drop. We know that this second wave will be even harder and more lethal.'   

'Having spoken with scientists, representatives from the economy, as of Friday we will have to go back into a lockdown that put a halt on the spread of the virus.   

'The PM will give more details over the next few days. You will be able to leave home to provide assistance and do essential grocery shopping and this is going back to the time when you need a special permit to leave home.'  

Referring to the last rigorous lockdown earlier in the year – one that was enforced by police who could issue fines and even prison sentences if necessary – Mr Macron said: ‘As in spring, you can leave your home to go to work, to go to a medical appointment, to help a loved one, to do your shopping or to take the air near your home. It is therefore the return of the documents.

‘Bars and restaurants will be closed,’ said Mr Macron adding: ‘Every fortnight, we will take stock of the evolution of the epidemic.

‘We will decide, if necessary, on additional measures and we will then assess whether we can alleviate certain constraints. 

‘If within two weeks we are in control the situation, we can then reassess things and hope to open some businesses, especially in this very important period before the Christmas holidays.’

Mr Macron had explained how hospitals were once again becoming overwhelmed by patients suffering from Covid-19.    

A man wearing a mask walks in the street in the center of Lyon, central France, today

'The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,' Macron said. 'Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.'

'We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.' 

The lockdown was effective at containing the epidemic, but its started spreading again after it was relaxed on May 11, and people started congregating again in classrooms, universities, bars and restaurants. 

France's death toll, at over 35,000, is the seventh highest in the world, according to Reuters data.

Earlier this month, Macron announced a night-time curfew in Paris and other big cities, but officials this week acknowledged that measure had proved insufficient to bring down infection rates, requiring a more drastic response. 

Germany announces new four-week 'lockdown lite' that will see all bars and restaurants closed but schools and shops stay open as Spain and Italy are hit by more anti-shutdown protests

Angela Merkel announced four-week lockdown that will see all bars and restaurants shut from MondayBut shops and schools will remain open, while businesses will still be allowed to offer takeaway services Emmanuel Macron was also set to announce harsher measures for France on Wednesday eveningMarkets in Europe and the US tanked at the news, with the FTSE 100 hitting its lowest level since AprilMeanwhile Italy and Spain were hit with fresh anti-lockdown protests at the recent curfews introduced there 

 By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline and Gerard Couzens in Spain for MailOnline

Angela Merkel has plunged Germany back into 'lockdown lite', ordering all bars and restaurants to close across the country starting on Monday. 

The move will also see theatres, cinemas and leisure facilities close throughout November, though unlike the first lockdown, schools and shops will be allowed to stay open. Takeaway services are also allowed.

Merkel, who announced the move Wednesday evening after agreeing it with regional governors, said it was necessary 'to act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency'.

President Emmanuel Macron was set to announce harsher restrictions in France on Wednesday evening, effectively plunging the nation back into full lockdown throughout November - though schools will stay open.

European markets tanked at the news, with the DAX falling almost 4.5 per cent. Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and Italy's FTSE MIB were also sharply down on Wednesday.

Protesters also took to the streets of Berlin to demand that the government do more to support them, while anti-lockdown activists also took to the streets of Spain and Italy overnight, sparking clashes with police.  

Protesters took to the streets of Berlin on Wednesday to demand more support for the government, even as Angela Merkel plunged the whole country back into a 'lockdown lite'

Members of Berlin's entertainment industry protest against government shutdowns, demanding more support while they are unable to work because of the virus

A coffin is driven past the Reichstag building, as entertainment workers demand more support for the 'dying' industry

Angela Merkel announced that all bars, restaurants and other leisure facilities will have to close on Monday and stay shut through November, with schools and shops allowed to stay open

Merkel said the shutdown is necessary'to avoid an acute national health emergency' after the country reported some 15,000 new cases in a single day (file image, an abandoned street in Bavaria)

Chairs and tables stand outside a restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany, which has been under curfew measures for a fortnight, but will now have to close throughout the whole of November

Coroanvirus cases are rising rapidly in most major European countries, prompting leaders to consider more lockdown measures. Curfews are now in place in Spain, Italy, and UK, with France and Germany considering circuit breaker shutdowns 

Spain and Italy have both seen deaths increase in recent weeks, although they are lower than during the first wave - unlike in the Czech Republic and other countries in Eastern Europe where deaths have risen to record levels  

Angela Merkel is also discussing a fresh lockdown with regional leaders today in an attempt to head off a sharp rise in cases (left) and as deaths begin to creep up (right)

Reports of fresh lockdowns caused European markets to open sharply down on Wednesday, with the British FTSE 100 (left) and French CAC 40 both down around 3 per cent

Germany's DAX index (left) and the Italian FTSE MIB (right) were both down around 3 per cent on open, compared to the previous day

While markets initially gained back a little of the loss, they went into the afternoon even lower than at the start of the day. Wall Street also opened around 2 per cent down, with the NASDAQ, S&P 500 and Dow Jones all falling. 

In Germany, Merkel added that shops and schools will remain open, unlike during the first lockdown, while restaurants will be able to provide take-out food.

But she also appealed to people not to make unnecessary journeys and said hotels won’t be able to accommodate people on tourist trips.

The decision came hours after Germany’s disease control agency said a record 14,964 new confirmed cases were recorded across the country in the past day, taking the national total in the pandemic to 449,275.

Germany, which has 83 million people, also record 27 more virus-related deaths, raising its overall death toll to 10,098, the Robert Koch Institute said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, health experts in Spain have warned that another full lockdown could be on the cards as intensive care units fill up - with eight at risk of 'collapse'.

Hospitals in Aragon, Catalonia and Madrid, Castille and Leon, Navarra, Rioja, and Ceuta are all around 40 per cent full, according to La Vanguardia.

With cases still on the rise in those regions, experts estimate that all beds could be full within the next 20 days.

In Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa, the situation is dire - with two thirds of beds currently occupied.

That prompted Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez to call for a new state of emergency to be imposed on Monday, putting the framework in place for him to announce local or even national lockdowns at a moment's notice. 

A wave of anti-lockdown protests have swept Europe as governments impose harsher lockdowns to curb the resurgence of coronavirus

People gather during a demonstration on October 28, 2020 in Barcelona against the closure imposed by the regional government on bars, restaurants and clubs

Protesters are seen at a demonstration on October 28 in Barcelona, Spain against the closure imposed by the regional government on bars, restaurants and clubs

Hospitals in Aragon, Catalonia and Madrid, Castille and Leon, Navarra, Rioja, and Ceuta are all around 40 per cent full, according to La Vanguardia. Pictured: Barcelona)

Protesters clashed with police on the streets of Rome overnight in the fifth straight night of unrest in Italy over new coronavirus curfews

Italy introduced an overnight curfew in Rome to try and slow the spread of coronavirus, amid fears that tougher measures could follow

Protesters in Rome took over the Piazza del Popolo on Tuesday night until they were dispersed by police dressed in riot uniforms

Police move in to clear protesters from the streets of Rome on Tuesday night, following similar demonstrations earlier in the week in Milan and Naples

Protesters burned wheelie bins and set off fireworks in the Spanish city of Seville overnight to protest against coronavirus curfews

A man watches fireworks go off in Seville, to protest against new coronavirus curfews

Spain has also announced fresh curfews and raised the prospect of another nationwide lockdown after cases soared (left) and deaths continued to creep upwards (right)

Italy announced coronavirus curfews for major cities including Rome, Naples and Milan this week, after coronavirus cases began rising sharply and deaths also began to mount

He also announced night-time curfews in an attempt to bring cases under control.

But Tomás Cobo, vice president of the Collegiate Medical Organization, told El Pais that full shutdown 'is the only measure for which there is scientific evidence.'

Protests continued into Wednesday in Spain, as taxi drivers gathered in Barcelona, angry that lockdowns have led to a fall in demand.

Similar demonstrations took place in Italy after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced overnight curfews in Rome, Naples and Milan which he said were designed to avoid a second full lockdown.

Macron was due to speak in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday night, with fears of another full lockdown looming.

Two industry sources briefed on the restrictions said rules would be almost identical to the first lockdown, with non-essential business forced to close and people told to stay indoors.

However, under the second lockdown schools would be allowed to stay open, and people would be allowed to go to work if their jobs cannot be done remotely. 

New measures could come into effect from midnight on Thursday, and would last for four weeks.

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel was meeting with regional leaders in Germany on Wednesday, with plans for another full lockdown on the table.

It is thought she could announce more restrictions to begin on November 4 which would see bars and restaurants closed, with a ban on public gatherings.

Unlike the first lockdown, schools would remain open. 

In Belgium, which has the most cases per capita in the world, the number of coronavirus hospital admissions all but matched the level in the first wave in the spring, public health institute showed.

The government will meet again on Friday, and Prime Minister Alexander de Croo could announce more stringent measures.

Medics in one hospital in Belgium are so overstretched that some staff who are themselves infected with Covid are continuing to treat patients. 

Virtually every major European country has reported a record one-day total of coronavirus cases either in the last 24 hours, or within the last seven days.

Italy hit a record 22,000 cases on Tuesday and Germany a record 15,000.

Spain and Russia both reported a record total earlier this week, while France and the UK hit new highs the week prior. 

A restaurant-owner in Rome leaves a skeleton sitting outside his establishment, to protest the industry being 'killed off' by the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic

Top chefs and restaurant owners from Venice, Italy, gather around empty place settings in the Campo Santo Stefano after the government announced fresh hospitality curfews

A man wears a protective face mask as taxi drivers in Barcelona protest falling demand caused by coronavirus lockdowns

Even lockdown-free Sweden, whose approach had been praised for avoiding a severe economic downturn, reported a record 5,000 cases on Tuesday.

While increased testing means second wave totals are not comparable to the first wave, the rate at which cases are increasing - along with hospital admissions - is causing panic among European leaders. 

On Tuesday, a dozen restaurant owners protested in front of Milan's city hall while as many stadium concession stand owners waved banners at the Lombardy regional headquarters.

'No one has thought of us,' said Giacomo Errico, the Lombardy president of FIVA Commercio representing 6,000 concession stand owners in the northern region, among 40,000 nationwide, that have been out of work since February.

Such peaceful protests have been staged up and down the Italian peninsula, while more violent protests erupting at night, increasingly culminating with vandalism, looting and clashes with police.

Italy's national prosecutor for terrorism and organized crime, Federico Cafiero de Raho, on Tuesday said subversives had infiltrated peaceful protests in the country. He said they included proponents of the extreme right and anarchists on the extreme left.

Investigators have also looked into indications that organized crime groups in the Naples area provoked violence at a peaceful protest.

France has warned of possible new lockdowns, include extending existing curfews, fully keeping residents at home on weekends or all week and closing non-essential businesses. 

Since curfews were imposed a couple of weeks ago, French police have issued 14,000 fines, the interior minister said Tuesday. 

Doctors are seeing growing pressure on France's emergency services and intensive care wards, where COVID patients now take up more than half of the beds.

In Spain, the Canary Islands was seeking to pass a law demanding that visitors arrive at the popular archipelago off northwest Africa with proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Russia, which has world's fourth highest tally of 1.5 million confirmed cases, is resisting a second lockdown. 

But with cases rising at over 15,000 a day, the health agency ordered all Russians to wear masks in crowded public spaces, including public transport, and in closed spaces like taxis and elevators.

Merchants, restaurateurs and workers hold a mock funeral for their industry which they say is being killed by shutdowns

Business owners organized a staged funeral to protest against the lockdown imposed by the Italian government in Como

The Czech government has further tightened its regulations, imposing a nationwide curfew between 9 p.m and 6 a.m. that started Wednesday. 

It previously limited free movement, closed stores, schools and restaurants, made it mandatory to wear face masks indoors and outdoors and banned sport competitions, but the number of infections has continued to rise.

Several demonstrations against the virus restrictions were planned for Wednesday in the capital of Prague.

Even Sweden, which avoided a national lockdown and generally imposed far lighter measures than other European countries, is now urging people to avoid shopping centers and shops and stay away from public transportation.

The World Health Organization said more than 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases were reported last week - the shortest time ever for such an exponential increase.

It said for the second consecutive week, the European region accounted for the biggest proportion of new cases, with more than 1.3 million cases or about 46% of the worldwide total. 

The U.N. health agency said deaths were also on the rise in Europe, with about a 35 per cent spike since the previous week. 

Overall, Europe has seen more than 250,000 virus-related deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The WHO noted hospitalizations and ICU occupancy due to Covid increased in 21 European countries. 

As European Union countries weigh tougher coronavirus restrictions, top EU officials on Wednesday urged the bloc's 27 nations to introduce common rules to test for the disease and track its spread to help prevent further damage to their economies.

European Council President Charles Michel, who will chair an extraordinary summit of EU leaders on Thursday evening focused on the pandemic, also urged them to prepare for logistical challenges likely to plague the rollout of any vaccines. 

'We are in a storm. We are all in the same boat. And in this storm, we must keep cool heads,' Michel told French radio RTL.

Meanwhile European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels that Europe is confronted 'with two enemies at this time. We're dealing with the coronavirus; the virus itself and also corona fatigue. That is, people are becoming more and more fed up with the preventive measures.' 

Michel also urged the leaders to prepare for prioritizing vaccinations.

'Based on the information we have, at the end of the year or early next year, 3 or 4 vaccine candidates could be available,' Michel said.

Von der Leyen said the commission will prolong its value added tax exemption on the purchase of vaccines and testing kits for a further six months.

'I think that this year's Christmas will be a different Christmas,' von der Leyen added.


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