Bars and borders stay closed as Europe battles second wave of coronavirus

Bars and borders stay closed as Europe battles second wave of coronavirus

France

The country announced a second lockdown from 30 October after daily Covid-related deaths reached their highest levels since April. Due to last at least a month, it is having a limited effect: new infections and hospital admissions dropped sharply at first only to increase sharply at the end of last week. , health ministry data showed

People are allowed to leave home only for essential work and medical reasons; restaurants and bars have been told to close but schools and factories can remain open. All non-essential travel has been banned and the country’s external borders are closed (although journeys are still permitted inside the EU). Travellers must be tested on arrival.

Austria

Yesterday, Vienna ordered a three-week lockdown starting on Tuesday to bring a surge in Covid-19 cases under control in time for Christmas. Austria now has one of Europe’s highest infection rates per capita. Daily new cases hit a record of 9,586 on Friday, nine times higher than at the peak of the first wave.

A current night-time curfew will become an all-day requirement to stay at home, with a few exceptions such as shopping or exercise. Working from home should happen wherever possible. Non-essential shops will close, as will service providers such as hairdressers. Secondary schools have already switched to distance learning; primary schools and kindergartens will continue to provide childcare.

Germany

Early this month, Germany began a “circuit-breaker” national lockdown to try to stop a sharp rise in cases, closing restaurants, bars, cinemas and gyms, and banning leisure travel. Schools remain open, and worship and protests are still allowed.

But daily infections have continued to increase, hitting a record 23,542 on Friday, and officials have dampened hopes that restrictions would be lifted at a meeting on Monday, when the effect of the lockdown will be discussed. Winter events such as office Christmas parties were unlikely to be allowed, the health minister said.

Portugal

The country is having a second wave that is worse than its first, and in response has brought in one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with a nightly curfew and weekend shutdowns in nearly 200 municipalities, home to more than three-quarters of the population. People have been urged to work from home if they can, though schools, shops and restaurants are still open. In affected areas, people must stay at home from 11pm to 5am, or from 1pm at weekends.

The country has recorded a comparatively low 191,011 cases and 3,181 deaths, but last Saturday daily infections rose to over 6,600.

Sweden

Since the start of the pandemic, Sweden has opted for a light-touch, anti-lockdown approach. There were hopes that this could mitigate a second wave by producing a higher level of immunity, but studies so far show that the national health agency has been over-optimistic about levels of antibodies in the population. In recent days, infections and hospital admissions have surged, and several regions have brought in tighter controls – though people are asked, rather than legally obliged, to comply with most measures. On Friday, the country registered 5,990 new cases, the highest since the start of the pandemic.

But shops, bars, restaurants and gyms have stayed open throughout, and wearing a face mask is still not an official recommendation outside hospitals. The country’s death rate per capita is far higher than that of its Nordic neighbours, but lower than in countries such as Spain.