By GUY DAVIES, ABC News
(LONDON) — New restrictions have been unveiled across Europe as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on the continent, with several countries reporting record one-day rises in cases this week.
Among the new rules are wider mask mandates, restrictions on social gatherings and curbs to the hospitality industry, just months after the spread of infection was seemingly under control and restrictions were eased.
Italy, Germany and France all reported record single-day rises in cases, though that has not translated into the similar death counts seen in the early days of the pandemic.
To curb the spread, Paris has been declared a “Maximum Alert Zone,” meaning all bars are now closed, restaurants are open with strict conditions, and the playing of music and sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. has been prohibited. On Wednesday 18,764 new cases were reported, as well as 80 coronavirus-related deaths. COVID-19 patients now take up more than 40% of all intensive care unit beds across Ile-de-France, the region surrounding Paris.
This weekend, four more French cities will have their status switched to a “Maximum Alert Zone.”
In Italy, wearing masks is now mandatory in all indoor and outdoor spaces, and the government is attempting to combat the rise in cases by instituting local lockdowns to avoid closing businesses and schools nationwide again.
“The state can’t ask citizens to wear masks in their own homes,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said at a press conference this week. “But we have a strong recommendation for all citizens: Even in our families we have to be careful.”
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said “the numbers are a worrying jump” as the country recorded over 4,000 daily infections on Wednesday,
“At the moment it’s mainly young people getting infected, because they want to party, want to travel and because they feel invulnerable, but they are not,” he said.
In the U.K., Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to set their own lockdown measures. Pubs, bars and restaurants will shut at 6 p.m. local time Friday evening for at least two weeks, with tighter social restrictions also now in force.
In England, proposals for a new lockdown have been speculated in the British media over the past few weeks, but so far the government is dealing with the pandemic by placing local restrictions on social gatherings particularly in the north of the country. Social gatherings of more than six people from different households are now banned.
A state of emergency meanwhile has been declared in Madrid, allowing the central government to enforce another lockdown, after a regional court ruled that the move was unlawful.
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.