More than half of the population of England, about 28 million, has been living since Saturday (17) under new restrictions to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Meetings between family and friends who live in different houses are prohibited in London and other parts of England. People from different families can only meet in parks or beaches.
In the Lancashire region (northwest), the second after Liverpool to be classified at the “very high” alert level, bars that do not serve food have been closed since Saturday (10), and private meetings are severely limited.
The British capital and these areas thus join other regions that were already subject to this type of restrictions after being classified by the authorities as “high level of virus circulation”, the second stage of an alert system that has three levels.
Across England, meetings of more than six people have already been banned, bars and restaurants are expected to close at 10 pm.
Most affected country in Europe
The United Kingdom, the most affected country in Europe with more than 43,400 deaths, suffers, like the rest of the continent, a second wave of contamination, with a total of almost 690,000 positive cases.
Privileging a local strategy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the time being excludes a new generalized lockdown, with disastrous economic consequences, recommended by his scientific advisers and demanded by the labor opposition.
But some cities have seen angry protests against what some people see as a return to the lockdown.
Johnson acknowledged that local restraint policies designed to save economies in crisis from a new large-scale blockade cannot be “pain-free”.
Twelve European countries have record new cases of Covid this Friday (16)
In Northern Ireland (1.9 million inhabitants), bars and restaurants closed for a month on Friday. Autumn school holidays have been extended to two weeks.
People who come from areas within the country with a high prevalence of the virus were banned from entering Wales on Friday night.
While Britain fights for a coherent strategy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to stay at home whenever possible, after 7,830 cases emerged in 24 hours.
“Say no to the trip that isn’t really needed, to a celebration that isn’t really needed. Please stay home as much as possible,” said Merkel in her weekly podcast.
“What will determine winter and our Christmas will be decided in the coming weeks” by the way people react now, she said.
In Italy, the rich northern region of Lombardy has ordered all bars to close at midnight, as the area where Europe’s first virus cases emerged in February faces a second wave.
Elsewhere in Europe, Poland, the Czech Republic and Belgium announced a record number of daily cases after the World Health Organization classified a 44% increase in European cases in one week as “very worrying”.
Belgian officials said on Saturday they had reached 200,000 cases less than a month after exceeding 100,000.
In addition to Europe, South Africa, which accounts for about 43% of infections diagnosed on the African continent, surpassed 700,000 positive cases on Friday (16), with 61 deaths, bringing the number of fatalities to more than 18,000.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has become the latest politician to test positive for Covid-19, after leaders like the President of the United States, Donald Trump, the Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro and the British Johnson.
While the wait for a vaccine continues, two American companies said on Friday that they hope to apply for emergency approval by the end of November – but experts warn that even when a vaccine is approved, it will take many months before it is widely available.
* With information from AFP