New Delhi (NVI): French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.
“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” Macron said in a televised address. “Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.”
Under the new French measures which will come into force on Friday until at least December 1, people will be required to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or exercise for up to one hour a day. They will be permitted to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home. Schools will stay open.
Meanwhile, Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theatres from November 2-30 under measures agreed between Merkel and heads of regional governments. Schools will stay open, and shops will be allowed to operate with strict limits on access.
During the month-long emergency lockdown, private gatherings will be limited to 10 people from a maximum of two households. Professional sports events will be allowed to be held only without spectators.
Furthermore, people will be asked not to travel for private, non-essential reasons, and overnight stays in hotels will be available only for necessary business trips.
“We need to take action now,” Merkel said. “Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”
France has surged above 36,000 new cases a day. Germany, which was less hard-hit than its European neighbours early this year, has seen an exponential rise in cases.
In Germany, cases rose 14,964 to 4,86,972 in the last 24 hours. Deaths jumped by 85 to 10,281, heightening fears for the health system after Merkel warned it could hit breaking point if infections continue to spiral.
Meanwhile, the total number of coronavirus infections in France have surged past 1.2 million while the number of fatalities stands at 35,823 in the country.