Europe fights against virus with strict measures

Europe is fighting against the second wave of coronavirus pandemic with strict measures as the number of infection and deaths rise during autumn as the festive season fast approaches.

As the latest news from vaccine reaearches raised hopes across the globe, the continent is still struggling to push the numbers down with a series of measures, incuding lockdowns, curfews and tier system restrictions.

-France

France on Oct. 30 entered the second nationwide lockdown for four weeks. Only essential businesses are allowed to remain open, including grocery and small food stores, hospitals and medical establishments, petrol stations, and tobacco shops.

All non-essential businesses will remain closed until Dec. 1. Restaurants, cafes, and bars, which are thought to be the main spreaders of the virus, will remain shut.

Nursery and high schools remain open with face masks compulsory for all children above the age of six. Universities, on the other hand, will continue via videoconference and libraries will be accessible upon an appointment.

The death toll in the country reached 45,122, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins University data, while the country passed two million COVID-19 cases.

-UK

The daily numbers of coronavirus deaths and infections have risen steadily since the start of November despite the country going into a series of strict restrictions.

A national lockdown is in place in England since Nov. 5 and it will end on Dec. 2. The public is discussing whether it will be extended beyond this date.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this week that it was “too early” to say whether the country would emerge from the lockdown on Dec. 2. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said on Nov. 5 that the lockdown would end on Dec. 2 to give people an “as normal Christmas as possible.”

Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops have been shut and citizens are asked to stay home in the lockdown.

Similar restrictions are in place in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

According to the latest JHU figures available, 52,240 people died and 1.39 million people were infected because of the strain in the UK.

-Italy

While the Italian government is opposed to the idea of a nationwide lockdown due to the economic reasons, the country introduced three color-coded risk areas with varying levels of closures — red for the highest risk, then orange and yellow.

Italy’s prime minister on Oct. 25 announced new anti-coronavirus measures for bars, restaurants and public gatherings, in a last-ditch effort aimed at avoiding a new nationwide lockdown.

Under the new rules, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters will be closed, while bars and restaurants will be obliged to shut down at 6:00 p.m. local time, including Sundays.

The new decree, signed after night-long negotiations with regional governors, will be effective until Nov. 24.

The decree discourages movements across regions, if not for strict health or job reasons, but no limitation will be introduced by law.

High schools will have to provide up to 75% of teaching through online schooling, but specific action will be decided at a local level.

The country reported 1.20 million cases since the start of the pandemic last year and the death toll reached 45,733.

-Spain

Spain’s state of emergency came into effect on Oct. 25 night and instated an 11.00 p.m. curfew across the country with the exception of the Canary Islands in an effort to control a new spike in the COVID-19 infections.

Regional governments have the power to push the hour of the curfew back or forward by one hour.

On Oct. 29, the country extended the state of emergency for six more months.

Regional authorities are allowed to restrict movement between districts and the new measures announced include a limit on public and private gatherings of different households to a maximum of six people.

Authorities also confirmed that beginning on Nov. 23, all arrivals to Spain from “high risk” areas would have to provide documentation to prove that they tested negative for the coronavirus in a PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival.

According to JHU data, some 1.49 million people have been infected with COVID-19 in the country while 41,253 people have lost their lives to the virus.

-Germany

Germany has entered a month-long partial lockdown on Nov. 2 after a surge in new infections and hospitalizations.

Bars, cafes and restaurants have been ordered to close apart from deliveries and takeaways.

Cultural and leisure facilities are also closed until the end of November.

Retail and schools across the country remain open, but with strict hygiene and physical distancing measures.

Social gatherings were restricted to 10 participants from a maximum of two different households.

As the country moved into its third week of lockdown, health authorities reported decline in new coronavirus cases compared to last week, but deaths and seriously ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care units were slightly higher.

On Tuesday, the country reported 14,419 new cases, and 267 more COVID-19 related deaths.

The national total now stands at 815,746 cases with at least 12,814 deaths.

Germany has the fifth-highest tally of coronavirus infections in Europe, behind France, Spain, the UK, and Italy.

Source: Anadolu Agency