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Europe’s battle to stem dramatic surge in coronavirus infections enters next phase, with England would have ready to join the two powerful economies of the continent to curb movements for at least a month.
England is considering a month-long stay-at-home order, with exemptions for schools and universities, the BBC reported, as cases increase at a record rate. Germany will begin a partial closure on Monday, with bars, restaurants, leisure facilities and cultural venues closed, while schools and most shops will remain open. France launched its version of “lockdown lite” Friday, as governments rush to try to stem the epidemic in Europe, where more than 215,000 have died of the disease and nearly 7 million have been infected.
As protests mount and political unity unravel, officials hope they can bring the disease under control as Europe enters winter, allowing them to avoid the sweeping restrictions that have plunged the continent into recession in spring.
Here is the latest news from Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain:
Boris Johnson’s government is considering further restrictions for England of the next week with the government ready to abandon its plan to tackle localized coronavirus hotspots rather than impose a nationwide lockdown. Johnson is now weighing a month-long stay-at-home order that could be announced on Monday, with an exemption for schools and universities, theBBC reported.
Johnson may have been swayed by new data seen by the BBC showing the death toll could reach 4,000 a day if tougher policies are not put in place to slow the spread. That’s about four times the daily death rate at the virus’s first peak.Another report by the government science advisory group on the virus released on Friday said the UK-wide epidemic is already on a steeper path than even the government’s worst-case scenario.
Cases in the UK, where Covid-19 policy is controlled separately in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, jumped by more than 24,000 on Friday and total infections will likely exceed 1 million by Saturday . The country has the highest death toll from Covid-19 in Europe with more than 46,000 deaths, followed by Italy, France and Spain, which each have more than 35,000 deaths.
After discussions on Wednesday with the country’s 16 regional prime ministers, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced measures to severely limit movements, while keeping schools open and the economy running.
Merkel said the country was in a “dire situation”, with health care services exceeding the limit and authorities no longer able to trace infections to their source.
If Germany waits for intensive care units to be full, it will be too late, she said, warning of “four long and difficult winter months” ahead.
More than 19,000 new cases were reported on Friday, the second-highest daily number to date.
Officials insist the latest measures will allow Europe’s largest economy to continue functioning overall, and Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Friday the government still expects growth of 0, 4% in the fourth quarter.
Merkel is struggling to keep control of the crisis. A speech she gave in parliament on Thursday was repeatedly interrupted by heckling from opposition lawmakers as she condemned “lies and disinformation, conspiracy and hatred.”
France’s goal is to limit the economic contraction to 15% during the last lockout, or about half of the 30% drop in the one that began in March, according to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire.
This can be explained in particular by the stopping of construction work, while this time the sites and stores selling construction materials will remain open, as well as the management permits of government services.
The announcement of the new restrictions came less than a week after France extended a curfew to around two-thirds of the population. “The virus is circulating in France at a speed that even the most pessimistic forecasts had not foreseen,” President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday in a speech to the nation.
France reported the mostnew deaths since April 20, the same day the first lockout went into effect.
Italy, which was under partial lockdown last week, could also add measures, including a travel ban between regions “in the next few hours,” Corriere della Sera reported on Saturday. Milan, Naples, Bologna, Turin and Rome are among the cities that could face the lockdown of at least some sections of their metropolitan areas, according to Corriere.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte would prefer to wait a few days before adding new restrictions, but he is under pressure from factions in his coalition for more action as the virus threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system, the newspaper.
A next round of restrictions could involve targeted closures of entire urban areas, possibly including hard-hit Milan and Naples, local media reported. The country could still enter an almost complete lockdown as early as November 9 if the infection figures continue to climb, according to the daily Il Messaggero.
Italy has already set a curfew at 11 p.m., reduced the opening hours of restaurants and bars and closed gyms, swimming pools and places of entertainment.
New cases reported topped 30,000 on Friday for thefirst time since the start of the pandemic.
A majority of Spain’s 17 regions have already closed their internal borders or will do so this week, preventing non-essential travel.
The targeted regional lockdowns will remain in effect until November 9 and cover consecutive weekends of public holidays, which would typically result in massive flows of travelers across the country.
Regional authorities have extraordinary powers to declare traffic restrictions after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a state of emergency on October 25. Spain has reported more than 9,000 daily coronavirus infections this week over two consecutive days, the highest number since monitoring began.
– With the help of Stuart Biggs, Jerrold Colten, Rodrigo Orihuela and Rudy Ruitenberg
(Updates with possible English lockout in the first paragraph, new measures in the Italy section.)