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Thursday, 29 October 2020

France announces second national lockdown: Macron says COVID second wave will be 'worse than first' and doing nothing will 'kill 400k people' - but schools stay open under month-long restrictions

 French President Emmanuel Macron last night announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be 'more deadly than the first'.

The national measures will take effect from Friday morning until December 1 and are considered to be 'more flexible' than the country's first lockdown, with all public services, schools and essential workplaces to remain open.

But people on the streets will still have to carry documents justifying their reason for leaving home - that will be subject to police checks - and bars and restaurants will close. State-approved reasons for leaving home include buying essential goods, seeking medical attention or taking a daily one-hour allocation of exercise.

Macron called the new restrictions 'heartbreaking' but said he 'could never stand by and see hundreds of thousands of French citizens die.' 

He told the country: 'I decided that it was necessary to insist on a lockdown throughout the country from Friday. We've already reached 58 per cent capacity in IC units. In numerous places we have seen life saving operations delayed. And 9,000 patients will be in ICU by mid November - that's our maximum capacity in France.'

The measures will be in place until at least December 1, when they will be reviewed. Macron says that non-essential shops would be allowed to open within the next 15 days if the situation improves. Currently France's daily infection rates stand above 35,000 - which must fall to 5,000 for this to happen. 


Macron said: 'The virus is spreading across France at a speed that even the most pessimistic did not predict.

'As elsewhere in Europe, we are overwhelmed by a second wave that will probably be more difficult and deadly than the first.

'If we did nothing... within a few months we would have at least 400,000 additional deaths,' he said. 

France announced 36,437 new infections on Wednesday night, taking the total above 1.2million, while another 244 deaths brought the total to 35,785.   

It comes as Angela Merkel plunged neighbouring Germany back into 'lockdown lite', ordering all bars and restaurants to close across the country starting on Monday. The chancellor said it was necessary 'to act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency'.   

The return of lockdown measures across Europe has led to protests breaking out in Spain and Italy where crowds have let off fireworks and looted luxury stores to voice their rage at the tightening controls on public life. 

In Britain, daily Covid-19 infections hit 24,701 last night in the first drop for a month - but deaths rose to 310 - up from 191 last Wednesday. 

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron last night announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be 'more deadly' than the first

This map shows the 14-day Covid-19 infection rate in Europe. Most of France is in the highest category of 240 or more cases per 100,000 people, along with most of Spain, all of the Czech Republic, the North of England and many other regions around the continent. French leader Emmanuel Macron last night announced a new nationwide lockdown, claiming that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if the country does nothing to control a second wave that will be 'more deadly' than the first

Coroanvirus cases are rising rapidly in most major European countries, prompting leaders to consider more lockdown measures. Curfews are now in place in Spain, Italy, and UK, with France and Germany considering circuit breaker shutdowns 

Spain and Italy have both seen deaths increase in recent weeks, although they are lower than during the first wave - unlike in the Czech Republic and other countries in Eastern Europe where deaths have risen to record levels

Spain and Italy have both seen deaths increase in recent weeks, although they are lower than during the first wave - unlike in the Czech Republic and other countries in Eastern Europe where deaths have risen to record levels  


The national measure will take effect from midnight on Friday and is considered to be 'more flexible' than the lockdown first imposed on France in March

French bars and restaurants will shut down from Friday, causing further economic chaos in a country where such businesses have already been badly hit by Covid-19. 

More 'specific details' on financial support to be offered to businesses are expected to be unveiled by French prime minister Jean Castex on Thursday.

The new measures echo the eight-week lockdown that France enforced in the spring, when hospitalisations and deaths caused by the COVID-19 epidemic reached a peak.

But unlike the previous lockdown, most schools are to remain open because their closure was deemed 'too damaging' by Macron.

Macron continued: 'We are currently overwhelmed at the pace with which this virus is spreading as winter approaches and the temperatures outside drop. We know that this second wave will be even harder and more lethal.'   

'Having spoken with scientists, representatives from the economy, as of Friday we will have to go back into a lockdown that put a halt on the spread of the virus.    

Referring to the last rigorous lockdown earlier in the year – one that was enforced by police who could issue fines and even prison sentences if necessary – Mr Macron said: 'As in spring, you can leave your home to go to work, to go to a medical appointment, to help a loved one, to do your shopping or to take the air near your home. It is therefore the return of the documents.'

'Bars and restaurants will be closed,' said Mr Macron adding: 'Every fortnight, we will take stock of the evolution of the epidemic.

'We will decide, if necessary, on additional measures and we will then assess whether we can alleviate certain constraints. 

'If within two weeks we are in control the situation, we can then reassess things and hope to open some businesses, especially in this very important period before the Christmas holidays.' 

Addressing the need to 'protect our economy', Macron said: 'We can't pit one against the other. We can't have a prosperous economy, when you have a virus that is circulating throughout the nation actively, and [you can't] have a well founded health system if you don't have a solid economy to keep it propped up, therefore you need to protect the both.' 

He also urged citizens to continue to order meals for delivery from restaurants to keep the economy afloat.  

Macron had explained how hospitals were once again becoming overwhelmed by patients suffering from Covid-19. 

'The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,' Macron said. 'Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.'

'We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.'   

The lockdown was effective at containing the epidemic, but it started spreading again after it was relaxed on May 11, and people started congregating again in classrooms, universities, bars and restaurants. 

People enjoy a drink on a restaurant terrace shortly before the 9pm city-wide night time curfew tonight, as France prepares to lockdown on Friday morning

People enjoy a drink on a restaurant terrace shortly before the 9pm city-wide night time curfew tonight, as France prepares to lockdown on Friday morning

French bar goers watch as Macron delivers his speech, plunging the country into lockdown until December 1

French bar goers watch as Macron delivers his speech, plunging the country into lockdown until December 1 

Speaking of why measures such as herd immunity or increasing medical capacity would not work sufficiently Macron told the country: 'Herd immunity in the very short term will mean 400,000 additional dead.

'France could never stand by and see hundreds of thousands of its citizens die, it does not meet French values.' 

He added that efforts had been made to extend the medical work force with '7,000 nurses and doctors trained to work in ICU'.

The country's ICU bed capacity is said to have grown from 5,000 to 6,000 since the start of the pandemic, with a new goal of 10,000 in place. 

However Macron said that these measures to increase treatment capacity could not be 'sufficient', adding that it takes ten years to train as an anaesthesiologist and that was a long term solution. 

Macron urged citizens to 'do it [lockdown] for ourselves and our loved ones', stating that 'nothing is more important than human life'.   

Earlier this month, Macron announced a night-time curfew in Paris and other big cities, but officials this week acknowledged that measure had proved insufficient to bring down infection rates, requiring a more drastic response. 

Government scientific adviser Jean-Francois Delfraissy said today that the second lockdown might have to be extended beyond its initial deadline of December 1. 

'By December 1, we will not be at 5,000 contaminations per day. I can tell that to you straight away today. We will need more time,' said Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises France's government. 

In his speech, Macron said he would take 'full responsibility for the reactions this [the lockdown] will cause', perhaps pre-empting that the violent anti-lockdown protests seen by Italy and Spain are to follow in France. 

Whilst France's 9pm curfews imposed on many of the largest cities including Paris, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse and Lyon, kept anti-lockdown protests at bay for the most part, other European cities have seen demonstrators turn violent.

In Italy, violence was reported in at least two major northern cities, Milan and Turin, as vast crowds protested freedom-limiting restrictions enforced to tackle a second surge in coronavirus cases. 

Witnesses said a number of luxury stores, including a Gucci shop, were ransacked in central Turin as crowds of youths took to the streets after nightfall, letting off huge firecrackers and lighting coloured flares.  

On Tuesday, a dozen restaurant owners protested in front of Milan's city hall while as many stadium concession stand owners waved banners at the Lombardy regional headquarters.

'No one has thought of us,' said Giacomo Errico, the Lombardy president of FIVA Commercio representing 6,000 concession stand owners in the northern region who that have been out of work since February. 

Italy's national prosecutor for terrorism and organized crime, Federico Cafiero de Raho, on Tuesday said subversives had infiltrated peaceful protests in the country. He said they included proponents of the extreme right and anarchists on the extreme left.

Investigators have also looked into indications that organized crime groups in the Naples area provoked violence at a peaceful protest. 

Workers of several sectors including restaurants, bars, hotel, taxi, and nightclubs march during a protest against the latest virus restrictions in Barcelona, Spain, today. Since October 14 bars and restaurants have been closed

Workers of several sectors including restaurants, bars, hotel, taxi, and nightclubs march during a protest against the latest virus restrictions in Barcelona, Spain, today. Since October 14 bars and restaurants have been closed

A protester holds a banner that reads 'we are not the problem' as workers of night clubs protest against the restrictions in the sector due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that has brought the night life to a halt in Barcelona, Spain, today

A protester holds a banner that reads 'we are not the problem' as workers of night clubs protest against the restrictions in the sector due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that has brought the night life to a halt in Barcelona, Spain, today

Demonstrators protest against the lockdown measures for COVID-19, tonight in Rome, Italy

Demonstrators protest against the lockdown measures for COVID-19, tonight in Rome, Italy

Italy registered over 21,000 new infections and 221 deaths in the last 24 hours. Anti-lockdown protestors in Rome tonight

Italy registered over 21,000 new infections and 221 deaths in the last 24 hours. Anti-lockdown protestors in Rome tonight

In Spain, protests have erupted in Barcelona and Seville with demonstrators setting up barricades, throwing fireworks and lighting rubbish bins on fire on Monday and Tuesday night. 

Madrid and other parts of Spain banned all but essential travel in and out of their regions. 

Health experts in Spain have warned that another full lockdown could be on the cards as intensive care units fill up - with eight at risk of 'collapse'.

Hospitals in Aragon, Catalonia and Madrid, Castille and Leon, Navarra, Rioja, and Ceuta are all around 40 per cent full, according to La Vanguardia. 

With cases still on the rise in those regions, experts estimate that all beds could be full within the next 20 days.

In Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa, the situation is dire - with two thirds of beds currently occupied.

That prompted Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez to call for a new state of emergency to be imposed on Monday, putting the framework in place for him to announce local or even national lockdowns at a moment's notice. 

Talk of new lockdowns also prompted unrest in Germany, where thousands staged a protest at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to demand more financial support from the government. 

Chancellor Merkel said that shops and schools will remain open under 'lockdown light', unlike during the first lockdown, while restaurants will be able to provide take-out food.

But she also appealed to people not to make unnecessary journeys and said hotels won't be able to accommodate people on tourist trips.

On Thursday morning, Germany announced another one-day high with 16,774 new infections, bringing the country's total to 481,013. 

Germany, the most populous country in Western Europe with 83million people, also announced 89 more deaths to take the total to 10,272. 

Italian police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators at Piazza del Popolo during a protest against the lockdown, in Rome, tonight

Italian police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators at Piazza del Popolo during a protest against the lockdown, in Rome, tonight

Italian police form a wall with riot shields as crowds of protestors clash with authorities in Rome, Italy, tonight

Italian police form a wall with riot shields as crowds of protestors clash with authorities in Rome, Italy, tonight

Protesters took to the streets of Berlin on Wednesday to demand more support for the government, even as Angela Merkel plunged the whole country back into a 'lockdown lite'

Protesters took to the streets of Berlin on Wednesday to demand more support for the government, even as Angela Merkel plunged the whole country back into a 'lockdown lite'

A coffin is driven past the Reichstag building, as entertainment workers demand more support for the 'dying' industry

A coffin is driven past the Reichstag building, as entertainment workers demand more support for the 'dying' industry

A wave of anti-lockdown protests have swept Europe as governments impose harsher lockdowns to curb the resurgence of coronavirus

People gather during a demonstration on October 28, 2020 in Barcelona against the closure imposed by the regional government on bars, restaurants and clubs

People gather during a demonstration on October 28, 2020 in Barcelona against the closure imposed by the regional government on bars, restaurants and clubs

Protesters are seen at a demonstration on October 28 in Barcelona, Spain against the closure imposed by the regional government on bars, restaurants and clubs

Protesters are seen at a demonstration on October 28 in Barcelona, Spain against the closure imposed by the regional government on bars, restaurants and clubs

Hospitals in Aragon, Catalonia and Madrid, Castille and Leon, Navarra, Rioja, and Ceuta are all around 40 per cent full, according to La Vanguardia. Pictured: Barcelona)

Hospitals in Aragon, Catalonia and Madrid, Castille and Leon, Navarra, Rioja, and Ceuta are all around 40 per cent full, according to La Vanguardia. Pictured: Barcelona)

The resurgence in Europe and the resulting clampdown sent a shudder through financial markets, and stocks slumped. In London the FTSE 100 tumbled to its lowest level in six months as investors dumped riskier assets on fears of more lockdowns. 

Countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria and Greece have closed or otherwise clamped down again on nightspots and imposed other restrictions such as curfews and mandatory mask-wearing. 

'We are deep in the second wave,' European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. 'I think that this year's Christmas will be a different Christmas.'   

The long-feared surge is blamed in part on growing disregard for social distancing and mask-wearing, as well as the onset of cold weather, which is forcing people indoors, where the virus can spread more easily. 

More than two million new confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported globally in the past week, the shortest time ever for such an increase, and 46 per cent of those were in Europe. 

While increased testing means second wave totals are not comparable to the first wave, the rate at which cases are increasing - along with hospital admissions - is causing panic among European leaders. 

Deaths are also on the rise in Europe, with about a 35 per cent spike from the previous week, the World Health Organization said. 

Von der Leyen said Europe is being confronted with 'two enemies.'

'We're dealing with the coronavirus - the virus itself - and also corona fatigue,' she said. 'That is, people are becoming more and more fed up with the preventive measures.' 

Even Sweden, which avoided a national lockdown and generally imposed far lighter measures than other European countries, is now urging people to avoid stores and public transportation. 

Sweden, whose approach had been praised for avoiding a severe economic downturn, reported a record 5,000 cases from the weekend on Tuesday. 

Protesters clashed with police on the streets of Rome overnight in the fifth straight night of unrest in Italy over new coronavirus curfews

Protesters clashed with police on the streets of Rome overnight in the fifth straight night of unrest in Italy over new coronavirus curfews

Italy introduced an overnight curfew in Rome to try and slow the spread of coronavirus, amid fears that tougher measures could follow

Italy introduced an overnight curfew in Rome to try and slow the spread of coronavirus, amid fears that tougher measures could follow

Protesters in Rome took over the Piazza del Popolo on Tuesday night until they were dispersed by police dressed in riot uniforms

Protesters in Rome took over the Piazza del Popolo on Tuesday night until they were dispersed by police dressed in riot uniforms

Police move in to clear protesters from the streets of Rome on Tuesday night, following similar demonstrations earlier in the week in Milan and Naples

Police move in to clear protesters from the streets of Rome on Tuesday night, following similar demonstrations earlier in the week in Milan and NaplesProtests in Seville

Protests in Seville

Protesters burned wheelie bins and set off fireworks in the Spanish city of Seville overnight to protest against coronavirus curfews

A man watches fireworks go off in Seville, to protest against new coronavirus curfews

A man watches fireworks go off in Seville, to protest against new coronavirus curfews


A restaurant-owner in Rome leaves a skeleton sitting outside his establishment, to protest the industry being 'killed off' by the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic

A restaurant-owner in Rome leaves a skeleton sitting outside his establishment, to protest the industry being 'killed off' by the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic

Top chefs and restaurant owners from Venice, Italy, gather around empty place settings in the Campo Santo Stefano after the government announced fresh hospitality curfews

Top chefs and restaurant owners from Venice, Italy, gather around empty place settings in the Campo Santo Stefano after the government announced fresh hospitality curfews

A man wears a protective face mask as taxi drivers in Barcelona protest falling demand caused by coronavirus lockdowns

A man wears a protective face mask as taxi drivers in Barcelona protest falling demand caused by coronavirus lockdowns

In Belgium, which has the most cases per capita in the world, the number of coronavirus hospital admissions all but matched the level in the first wave in the spring, public health institute showed.

The government will meet again on Friday, and Prime Minister Alexander de Croo could announce more stringent measures.

Medics in one hospital in Belgium are so overstretched that some staff who are themselves infected with Covid are continuing to treat patients.   

The Czech government has further tightened its regulations, imposing a nationwide curfew between 9pm and 6am that started Wednesday. 

It previously limited free movement, closed stores, schools and restaurants, made it mandatory to wear face masks indoors and outdoors and banned sport competitions, but the number of infections has continued to rise.

Several demonstrations against the virus restrictions were planned for Wednesday in the capital Prague.   

As European Union countries weigh tougher coronavirus restrictions, top EU officials on Wednesday urged the bloc's 27 nations to introduce common rules to test for the disease and track its spread to help prevent further damage to their economies.

European Council President Charles Michel, who will chair an extraordinary summit of EU leaders on Thursday evening focused on the pandemic, also urged them to prepare for logistical challenges likely to plague the rollout of any vaccines. 

'We are in a storm. We are all in the same boat. And in this storm, we must keep cool heads,' Michel told French radio RTL.  

Michel also urged the leaders to prepare for prioritizing vaccinations. 'Based on the information we have, at the end of the year or early next year, 3 or 4 vaccine candidates could be available,' Michel said.  

Merchants, restaurateurs and workers hold a mock funeral for their industry which they say is being killed by shutdowns

Merchants, restaurateurs and workers hold a mock funeral for their industry which they say is being killed by shutdowns

Business owners organized a staged funeral to protest against the lockdown imposed by the Italian government in Como

Business owners organized a staged funeral to protest against the lockdown imposed by the Italian government in Como

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