France and Germany ordered sweeping new lockdown measures on Wednesday as a new wave of COVID-19 cases surges across the continent.
The new, nationwide restrictions on Europe’s biggest economies are almost as severe as the lockdowns from the spring.
In a televised address – French President Emmanuel Macron said schools will remain open, but other non-essential public places like bars and restaurants, beginning Friday, will close.
“Like in the spring, you will be able to leave your house only to work, for a medical appointment, to provide assistance to a relative, to shop for essential goods or to get some air near your house. This means the return of the permission slip… The commerce that had been defined in the spring as non-essential, establishments that welcome the public, especially bars and restaurants, will remain closed.”
Similar measures were announced earlier Wednesday in Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said bars, restaurants, cinemas, sports facilities and trade fairs will close starting November 2nd for a month.
“We demand from people to refrain from private travels and visits, including visiting relatives if these travels are not absolutely necessary. This also goes for tourist visits and day trips. Overnight stays in Germany will only be allowed for essential, non-tourist purposes. We will drastically cut back on leisure activities: theaters, operas, concert houses and similar institutions, fairs, cinemas, amusement parks.”
Parisians sipping on what could be their last glass of wine in public for a while met the news with a great deal of angst.
DIGITAL WORKER, NADJI SAADEUL: “Let’s say that it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I mean, I’m a bit sad, but I get it.”
While leaders have been desperate to avoid the crippling cost of lockdowns, the new restrictions reflect alarm at the galloping pace of the pandemic from Spain, France and Germany to Russia, Poland and Bulgaria.
As the German Health Minister put it: “If we wait until the intensive care units are full, it will be too late.”