Curfew for 20 million French people, ban on meeting in London, schools closed in Poland: draconian measures entered into force on Saturday in Europe in the hope of stemming the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In France, where the number of contaminations reached a new record on Saturday with more than 32,000 new cases listed in 24 hours, a dozen large cities, including Paris and its suburbs, are now subject to a curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for at least four weeks, a measure that affects more than 20 million people.
The streets of the French capital gradually froze in silence, a situation that Paris had not known since 1961, in a completely different context, when a strict curfew had been decreed for the French Muslims in Algeria.
But the situation is deteriorating across the continent, with the number of new contaminations up 44% this week, enough to judge the situation “very worrying” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
At UK, the most bereaved country in Europe (43,429 dead, 15,000 new cases on Friday), the authorities also tightened the restrictions on Saturday: to London and in several other areas, representing 11 million people, indoor meetings between relatives and friends from different households are prohibited. Lancashire (north-west) and Liverpool are on maximum health alert, which means the ban on meetings between different households indoors and outdoors, and the closure of pubs that do not serve meals.
In North Ireland, pubs and restaurants closed for a month on Friday and school holidays were extended.
In Germany, who recorded 7,830 new cases in 24 hours – a record for the country -, Angela Merkel solemnly asked her fellow citizens on Saturday to reduce their social relations as much as possible.
New restrictions also come into force at Warsaw and other major cities of Poland : closed middle and high schools will practice distance education, restaurants will have to close at 9 p.m., wedding ceremonies will be prohibited and the number of people admitted to shops, public transport and religious services limited.
In Czech republic, which has the highest rate of infection and death per 100,000 mainland residents, the government has asked the military to build a 500-bed field hospital outside of Prague.
L’Italy, already hard hit in the spring, reported on Friday 10,010 new cases, its absolute daily record, while bars and restaurants closed from midnight in Lombardy (north), the most affected region and Campania (south-west ) had already decided to close its schools this week.
Soon a vaccine?
US laboratories Pfizer and Moderna have announced that they plan to apply for the authorization of their vaccines by the end of November in the United States, which would mark a speed record for the development of a vaccine.
But the possible launch of vaccination by the end of the year will be too limited to contain on its own the epidemic, which is in its third rebound in the United States, with an alarming increase in contaminations, hospitalizations and deaths.