A second wave of coronavirus is picking up pace across the continent and European leaders are playing with severe restrictions as Boris Johnson puts millions in England under a new three-tier local lockdown.
The French could follow in the UK’s footsteps and do something similar, while Italy likely bans private parties and the Czech Republic closes bars and converts schools to distance learning.
The UK Prime Minister tabled plans for a new three-tier lockdown system due to go into effect tomorrow, with each area assigned a local Covid alert.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that attempting to eradicate the pandemic in hopes of herd immunity was “scientifically and ethically problematic”.
This is despite numerous scientists who signed the so-called “Great Barrington Declaration” last week calling on people to enable young and healthy people to resume their normal lives.
Mr Tedos said there was still too much in the air in terms of immunity and how long antibodies would stay on someone who was previously infected with the virus.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the recent surge in infections, which has doubled in three weeks, has put increasing pressure on the country’s hospital system.
As a result, he ordered people to curtail house gatherings, while President Emmanuel Macron may take further action on Wednesday.
Mr Castex warned that if things worsen over the next two weeks, the government will “indeed take additional action,” adding: “Nothing can be ruled out.”
However, he also said if measures are followed for several months, a second nationwide lockdown can be avoided.
Although nine cities in France – most recently Toulouse and Montpellier – have been put on high alert and the Prime Minister has said that there are too many rule violations, particularly in Paris and its suburbs.
The French government will release a new version of their StopCovid app on October 22nd.
A ban on private parties and a limit on the number of wedding and funeral guests are reportedly among the new restrictions Italy is planning to consider.
A new decree could be issued on Monday that limits the number of house and private guests to 10, as well as for weddings.
It comes after the country topped 5,000 new cases in one day on Friday – something it hasn’t seen since March, although daily deaths remain very low compared to the peak.
Health Minister Roman Prymula said bars, restaurants and clubs will close from Wednesday. The Czech Republic currently reports nearly 60,000 active cases.
Public gatherings, meanwhile, will be limited to six, public alcohol consumption will be prohibited, and a requirement at public transport stops will be masked.
Businesses are calling for government support as the new restrictions are expected to continue to weigh on the economy.
Hospital admissions nearly doubled in a week.
Russia continues to report record numbers of new cases every day, with a third of office workers operating from home.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the capital’s response to rising transmission rates was “critical” and insisted that the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine would be ready in a few months.
Russia faced a severe lockdown in the spring, but it was eased in June.
Infections have risen in Berlin, Frankfurt and Bremen, and Angela Merkel is considering stricter rules after Germany received widespread praise for its handling of coronaviruses.
This weekend, some cities, including Berlin, are introducing a 11pm closing time for bars, cafes and restaurants. The limit on the number of people allowed to meet is also being brought back. Ms. Merkel will meet with mayors again in two weeks, and if the infection rates have not fallen, stricter measures will be taken.
Unlike in Great Britain, where vacation payments have decreased in recent months, in Germany they increase the longer someone cannot work due to Covid or is forced to cut their wages.
The 67% of the salary paid to workers with children in the first three months increases to 87% after six months, and the system is expected to run through the end of 2021.
Spain currently has 10,000 patients in hospital with coronavirus and has suffered what is arguably the worst second wave in Europe with more than 200 deaths in a few days.
The authorities have introduced local restrictions. In some cases, rules are introduced across a region, such as the closure of nightclubs in Catalonia. In other countries, movement is restricted in a town or village and locals are encouraged to stay at home.
With a few exceptions, face masks are mandatory in all public places for anyone over the age of six, and it is uncommon for people to disregard this rule, for example on the streets of a city.
The government recently extended corporate vacation until the end of January. It allows companies to send workers home or reduce their working hours, while unemployment benefits for the inactive remain at 70%.