France, Germany impose drastic curbs as virus surges in Europe

PARIS (AFP) – France was preparing to begin a new month-long national lockdown as Germany imposed drastic new curbs, with European leaders set to meet to discuss the explosive spikes in coronavirus infections on the continent.

The pandemic is surging worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of new daily infections taking the known global caseload past 44 million, with nearly 1.2 million deaths.

The dramatic lockdown decision from French President Emmanuel Macron came after worrying infection spikes in Europe that have forced governments to contemplate reinstating punishing stay-at-home orders.

“All of us in Europe are surprised by the spread of the virus,” Macron said in another televised address to the nation during which he stressed that the second lockdown would be less severe than the first. Restaurants are to be closed until at least the start of December, travel between regions will be limited, and citizens will need an authorisation form to leave their homes, he said.

But creches, schools, factories and building sites will remain open.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered a new round of shutdowns from Monday, November 2, until the end of the month, although Germans will not be confined to their homes.

Cafes and restaurants must close, as well as theatres, operas and cinemas. Hotel stays are to be restricted while professional sport, including Bundesliga football, is set to be pushed back behind closed doors.

Ireland had already locked down again last week, and the decisions by France and Germany will likely lead to pressure on other nations to follow suit, including Britain.