Germany announces new Covid restrictions, France braces for more as virus rises in Europe

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German officials on Wednesday announced tough new trade restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus and France is preparing for more measures ahead of a president’s speech.German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the country will implement a four-week closure of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and other such facilities from November 2 in an attempt to tackle the virus under control.

Merkel told reporters that the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care across the country has doubled in the past 10 days. She added that German hospitals will reach capacity in the coming weeks if this pace continues.

“These are difficult measures,” she said. “We must act, and now, to avert an acute national health emergency. ”

Stores, schools and daycares will remain open, she said, but will face further capacity restrictions. Restaurants will remain open for take out, Merkel said. She implored citizens to avoid unnecessary travel.

“We can say that our healthcare system can meet the challenge today,” said Merkel. “But if the rate of infections continues like this, then we will be reaching the limits of what the healthcare system can handle in a matter of weeks. ”

Germany reported a record high of 14,964 new cases on Wednesday, according to its disease control agency. The country has reported an average of more than 11,100 new cases of the virus per day over the past week, up more than 61% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns University Hopkins.

Amid growing fears that the spike in cases and the government’s response to it could devastate an already shocked economy, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has said November will be a critical month.

“November will be a month of truth,” said Scholz. “The growing number of infections is forcing us to take strong countermeasures to break the second wave with targeted and temporary measures, including effective financial assistance to affected businesses. ”

The virus is spreading across much of the northern hemisphere as colder weather sets in, forcing people inside and allowing it to spread more easily. European officials have also attributed the surge to “pandemic fatigue,” meaning people are tired of strictly adhering to public health measures.

France is also bracing for further restrictions, with President Emmanuel Macron due to address the nation at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The country has reported an average of more than 38,700 new cases of the virus a day over the past week, up more than 54% from a week ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

Italy reported a record high of 24,991 new cases on Wednesday, its health ministry said. The country has reported an average of more than 18,600 new cases of the virus a day over the past week, up more than 88% from a week ago, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

“We are deeply in the second wave now,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

– Reuters, The Associated Press et CNBC Nate Rattner contributed to this report.

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