Leaders across Europe are pushing to contain surging coronavirus infections in the region, with governments imposing restrictions and shutdowns in an effort to curb the rate of infections. Within the last 24 hours, France has declared a public health state of emergency, the U.K. is approaching a second national lockdown and Germany has introduced new rules in an effort to lower the infection rate. Europe now has over 7.2 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and hospitalizations are rising.
The French government declared a public health state of emergency on Wednesday as the country saw hospitalizations from Covid-19 jump above the 9,100 threshold for the first time since June 25. French President Emmanuel Macron announced that nine of the country’s largest cities, including Paris, will have to abide by a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting on Saturday, which will last for four weeks. This means that residents of those cities will not be allowed out between those hours except in exceptional circumstances. “We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” Macron said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with regional leaders on Wednesday to discuss infection surges in parts of the country; German states can decide their own strategy to curb rising cases, which has led to variations of the rules from state to state. Infections are rising in Germany to such an extent that daily new infections topped 5,000 earlier this week and there were 6,638 new cases reported on Thursday.
The U.K. introduced a new Covid-19 alert level system earlier this week, with the city of Liverpool and its suburban areas designated as “very high” risk and put under a strict local lockdown. Households in the area are not allowed to mix indoors or outdoors, and gyms, leisure centers, betting shops and casinos are closed. Pubs and bars have to close too, unless they serve food. These measures could now be expanded to other parts of northern England, including Manchester. It is expected that London will move to tier 2, or a “high” risk level, meaning that from Saturday onwards the indoor mixing of households will be banned.