Europeans face more restrictions amid second Covid-19 surge

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Disco and dance club operators stage a protest against government’s order for them to close in Rome, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Frances D'Emilio, Associated Press

Some European cities are facing new curfews, others are reimposing tough measures and countries are recording record numbers of daily cases while a second wave of Covid-19 sweeps across the continent.

Italy

Italy’s three largest cities face new curfews as regional authorities try to slow the spread of the virus where it first struck hard in Europe.

A midnight to 5am curfew in the Lazio region, which includes Rome, begins on Friday and lasts for 30 days, under an order signed by regional governor Nicola Zingaretti – who himself became seriously ill with Covid-19 early in the pandemic.

The governor of Campania, the southern region that includes densely populated Naples, has ordered residents to stay at home from 11pm to shortly before dawn, starting on Friday.

A similar curfew in Lombardy, where infections are particularly surging in its main city, Milan, will go into effect on Thursday night.

Italy was Europe’s first country to be put under a national lockdown in March.

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Premier Giuseppe Conte, wary of crippling the country’s economy, has not repeated the move so far, even as daily new confirmed infections hit a record of more than 15,000 on Wednesday.

Instead, he urged Italians to avoid “unnecessary” movements.

Eastern Europe

The Czech Republic’s government on Thursday reimposed exactly the same heavy restrictions it slapped on citizens in the spring – which Prime Minister Andrej Babis repeatedly said would not happen again – amid a record rise in infections.

He apologised for the huge impact the restrictions will have on everyday life but said if they are not taken “our health system would collapse between November 7th to 11th”.

The measures include limits on free movement and the closure of many stores, shopping centres and hotels until at least November 3rd.

Poland broke another record in confirmed new infections on Thursday with more than 12,100, and registered nearly 170 new deaths.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested that, starting on Saturday, he would like all Poland to be placed under the highest level of restrictions short of a full lockdown.

That would include mandatory use of masks in all open public spaces, limits on the number of people allowed in shops and on public transport, and closing gyms and swimming pools.

Westwards

Germany also reported a new daily record of more than 10,000 infections on Thursday, shattering the previous high of 7,830 set five days earlier.

Health Minister Jens Spahn tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday and has been quarantined at home.

With more than one million accumulated coronavirus infections, Spain is mulling new restrictions including possible curfews.

“It is a reality that in some parts of our country, the epidemic is out of control,” Health Minister Salvador Illa told Onda Cero radio.

“That is why more drastic measures must be taken, as some regions are doing.”

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With a 14-day rate of infection over 1,000 cases per 100,000 residents, more than three times the national average, the northern Navarra region has ordered all bars and restaurants to close and for shops and businesses to open only until 9pm.

It also banned non-essential travel in and out of its regional borders.

Madrid, which for weeks was the pandemic hotspot in Europe, has been under similar measures for nearly two weeks.

Mr Illa said more needs to be done there despite a stabilisation in the infection rate.

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