As Europe entered a deadly new phase of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany and France both announced new national lockdowns on Wednesday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that German officials have agreed to close restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities for four weeks to curb the sharp rise in coronavirus infections.
Merkel and the country’s 16 governors responsible for implementing and relaxing restrictions agreed to a partial lockdown in a video conference on Wednesday. It is scheduled to take effect on Monday and will last until the end of November.
Merkel said: “We must act now to avoid an urgent national health emergency.”
Shops and schools will remain open, unlike the German closure period during the first phase of the pandemic in March and April. Restaurants will be able to provide takeaway food.
Merkel urged people not to make unnecessary trips and said the hotel would not be able to accommodate tourists.
The decision was made a few hours later. The German disease control agency said that a record 14,964 new confirmed cases were recorded across the country in the past day, bringing the total number of pandemics across the country to 449,275.
The Robert Koch Institute said on Wednesday that there are 83 million people in Germany and it also recorded 27 virus-related deaths, bringing the overall death toll to 10,098.
During the pandemic, it performed better than many European countries, but officials there warned that it had also begun to lose control of the situation and cited the surge in cases in the Czech Republic as the reason for the early blockade.
Merkel said: “We can say that our health system can meet today’s challenges.” “But if the rate of infection continues like this, then we will reach the limit that the health system can manage within a few weeks.”
Also on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron announced the second blockade in France, which will begin on Friday in an attempt to resist the strong recovery of the coronavirus in the country.
More than half of France’s intensive care units are already occupied by COVID-19 patients. As hospitals became crowded, French military and civilian aircraft transported severely ill virus patients to other areas. French doctors called on the government to implement new lockdown measures across the country.
Macron said that with more than 520 deaths on Tuesday, the new national lockdown will be the only possible way to successfully fight COVID-19.
Macron said in a national television speech on Wednesday: “(France has been) suppressed by the second wave.” The government is scheduled to announce more details about the new blockade on Thursday.
The World Health Organization said earlier that the European region-which by its definition includes Russia, Turkey, Israel and Central Asia-accounted for nearly half of the 2.8 million new coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week.
The United Nations health agency said that the number of virus-related deaths in Europe is also on the rise, up by about 35% since last week, and hospitalization and ICU occupancy rates due to COVID-19 are increasing.
European Commission President Ursula von Delane told reporters in Brussels: “We are in the second wave.” “I think this Christmas will be a different Christmas.”
In the past 14 days, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic have also seen an increase in new cases, while the infection rate in Germany is low, but it is still rising steadily.