Two of Europe’s biggest economies have announced lockdowns in response to spiraling coronavirus case numbers.
France will begin a four-week lockdown on Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.
His declaration came just hours after German Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced a four-week nationwide lockdown starting next Monday.
Macron announced the French measures in a televised address on Wednesday evening, saying existing restrictions were “not enough anymore.” By mid-November, all intensive care beds could be taken by Covid-19 patients unless a “brake” is put on the virus, he warned.
Under the French lockdown, people will need a certificate to move around. Non-essential businesses, restaurants and bars will be closed.
Schools and workplaces will remain open, and care homes visits will be allowed. However French people will only be allowed outside to go “to work, to go to a medical appointment, to care for a relative, to do shop for essential goods and to get some air,” Macron said.
“The virus is circulating at a speed that even the most pessimistic had not predicted,” he said, adding that the curfew imposed in Paris and other administrative areas did not dent the spread of the virus.
France’s lockdown will last until December 1 at “minimum,” according to Macron.
German restaurants, bars and clubs will also be closed in order to “avoid a national health emergency,” according to Merkel.
People residing in Germany are advised to stay home, avoid travel and “keep their contacts to an absolute minimum,” she said. Social contacts will be limited to two households in public. Schools and kindergartens will remain open, but have to take strict hygiene measure to do so.
Germany’s restrictions will be reassessed in two weeks time, Merkel said.
Though strict, the new guidelines in both countries are less harsh than lockdowns imposed this spring, which brought Germany and France to a standstill.
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