European Countries Announce New Measures Mitigate Spread of COVID-19

Written By: Annilee Hampton

02 November 2020, Saxony-Anhalt, Quedlinburg: Unoccupied tables and chairs of a closed coffee stand on the market place. Since midnight, the four-week partial lockdown has been in effect in Saxony-Anhalt. The federal and state governments want to significantly reduce social contacts in Germany in November, in order to get a grip on the recently rapidly increasing corona numbers before the Advent season if possible. Photo: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB (Photo by Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/picture alliance via Getty Images)

After coronavirus restrictions were eased across Europe during the summer, a second wave of infections throughout the continent has led many countries to announce new measures to prevent the virus from further spreading. 

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Oct. 28 that France would be entering a four-week lockdown in response to the rapidly spiking number of coronavirus cases across the nation. A record 52,010 new cases in France were reported on Oct. 25, with the number of patients in intensive care rising to 2,918 on Oct. 27, with an additional 288 deaths attributed to the virus in the past 24 hours. As of Oct. 27, there has been a 120% increase in coronavirus cases in the past two weeks. While restrictions had been eased over the summer due to a falling number of cases, the virus’s second wave has called for new preventative measures to be taken. “We have always said we have to live with the virus … We have done all we can do and I believe our strategy and information has been good,” Macron said. “But we have to admit, like our [European] neighbours, we are submerged by the acceleration of the spread of the virus. All of Europe is surprised by the speed of the spread of the virus. We are overwhelmed by a second wave that is set to be harder and more deadly than the first.” The new lockdown is set to begin on Nov. 1 and continue until at least Dec.1. 

Germany has also imposed new restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with a minimum four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities announced on Oct. 27. Schools and shops are still permitted to remain open, while restaurants will be able to provide take-out options for customers. Social contacts will be limited to two households with a maximum of ten people and tourism will be halted. “Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infection it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said regarding the partial lockdown. The new measures were announced after 11,049 new coronavirus cases were reported on October 26th, with a seven-day average of 10,873. There has been a 140% increase in positive cases in the last 14 days. 

Spain, too, announced new restrictions on Oct. 25, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declaring a state of emergency in response to the spiking amount of coronavirus cases. The new measures require all regions except the Canary Islands to impose a nighttime curfew, as well as limiting the amount of people allowed to meet to six. 

Italy had previously been resisting a full lockdown, instead of tightening the rules little by little – first requiring masks outdoors, then forcing restaurants to trim their hours, followed by granting mayors the power to institute curfews. However, these restrictions seemed to do little to combat the spread of COVID-19. For example, the mandate regarding wearing masks did not apply to those eating outdoors, resulting in busy restaurants packed with people not wearing masks. Italy finally took a more forceful step on Oct. 25, ordering restaurants and bars to close by 6:00 p.m. and closing down cinemas and theaters in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. 

While many European countries have experienced dramatic spikes in the number of coronavirus cases, only France has announced a complete lockdown. Time will tell if other countries will find it necessary to implement such measures in order to prevent the virus from spreading further.

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