Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to unite as they did in the spring to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as the country posted another daily record of new cases on Saturday.
“Difficult months ahead,” he said on his weekly video podcast. “What will winter be like, what will our Christmas be like, that will be decided in the coming days and weeks, and our behavior will decide it.”
We are in a serious phase of the #Corona-Pandemic. Chancellor #Merkel calls on citizens to significantly reduce their contacts – and to forego unnecessary trips and celebrations. pic.twitter.com/b4VmlsXS6a
– Steffen Seibert (@RegSsprecher) October 17, 2020
Meanwhile, new restrictions went into effect in several other European nations in an effort to stem the resurgence of the pandemic.
In Paris and eight other French cities, restaurants, bars, cinemas and other establishments were forced to close before 9 pm to try to reduce contact between people. The country was deploying an additional 12,000 police officers to enforce the new rules.
Many restaurant owners have been angry with the order. A closing of months earlier devastated the sector.
“I have the right to question the government’s approach, I think it is a catastrophic move for the industry,” said Xavier Denamur, owner of Les Philosophes and several other bistros in the elegant Le Marais district of Paris, and said that at the very least, curfew should be 11pm
“At least that wouldn’t destroy us,” he said. “There is no evidence that this difference of a couple of hours has any effect on the circulation of the virus.”
In Britain, a three-tier regional approach to fighting the pandemic introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson came into force, with each tier bringing progressively stricter restrictions.
On Saturday, Tier 2 cities like London and York were subject to a ban on socializing with people from other households in the interior, while Lancashire County joined Liverpool at Tier 3 with the strictest restrictions.
Among other things, that means pubs have been forced to shut down and socializing with others is prohibited even in many outdoor settings.
In Northern Ireland, a four-week lockdown went into effect on Friday. All pubs and restaurants are required to close, except for takeout services, and schools will close for two weeks for an extended mid-term holiday.
Data on Friday showed that another 136 people died in the UK within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus, bringing the official total number to 43,429.
The World Health Organization has warned that intensive care units in several European cities could reach full capacity in the coming weeks if the number of infections does not decrease.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg joined the list of top politicians who tested positive for the virus and was quarantined although he showed no symptoms, his office told Austria’s APA news agency.
Meanwhile, the Vatican said that someone who lives in the same hotel as Pope Francis has tested positive for the virus, adding to the 11 cases of COVID-19 among the Swiss guards who protect him.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the country’s head of state, was quarantined after a bodyguard was infected, his office said. A first test was negative.
Germany, which was widely praised for rapidly slowing the spread of the virus when the pandemic broke out, has seen a rapid increase in numbers in recent days.
On Saturday, the country’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, reported 7,830 cases overnight, a new record.
Like most countries, Germany has been grappling with how to keep schools and businesses open while trying to prevent people from coming into close contact with each other.
Germany has recorded a total of 356,387 coronavirus cases and a relatively low number of 9,767 deaths.
Merkel urged Germans to avoid unnecessary travel, cancel parties and stay home whenever possible.
“What helped us so well during the first half of the pandemic?” she asked. “It was that we stuck together and obeyed the rules out of consideration and common sense. This is the most effective remedy we currently have against the pandemic and it is more necessary now than ever ”.
In neighboring Czech Republic, the number of new infections surpassed 10,000 for the first time, rising to 11,105 on Friday, the Health Ministry said. The country has recorded a total of 160,112 cases, including 1,283 deaths.
Despite new restrictive measures to curb the rise, Health Minister Roman Prymula said he still expects an increase in those who test positive for about two weeks.
Alongside, Slovakia said it was purchasing 13 million rapid antigen tests, enough to test every member of the population twice, and that it would establish 6,000 test sites.
Prime Minister Igor Matovic said tests will take place over the next two weekends, starting with the three or four most affected counties. It was not immediately clear whether the tests would be mandatory.
The Lombardy region of northern Italy, where the European outbreak began in late February, has taken new steps to contain the rebound of infections, limit bar service and alcohol sales, ban contact sports and close lounges. of bingo.
The regional government called on high schools Friday night to adopt hybrid schedules, with students alternating in person with online learning.
The measures were taken after Lombardy, the most populous region in Italy, became the worst hit again, adding more than 2,000 infections a day. Hospitals are under pressure and intensive care units are filling up.
The new measures allow only table service in bars from 6 p.m., prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages to take away after that time, and prohibit all alcohol consumption in public spaces.
The other worst-hit region of Italy, southern Campania, has taken similarly stringent measures, including closing schools for two weeks. After parents protested, the regional governor withdrew on Friday and allowed the nurseries to remain open.
In the capital Rome, residents complained as cases increased, fearing a return to the strict measures across the country that were imposed when the virus was spreading uncontrollably.
“The situation is critical thanks to the idiots, because I call them idiots, who have not respected the rules,” said resident Mario Massenzi. “And if we fall back into the same situation as in March, we will be done.”
With information from: AP