France Begins Fresh Lockdown Over Surge Of Virus


A fresh lockdown has taken off in France to curb one of Europe’s biggest coronavirus surges and ease the pressure on its hospitals.

It is expected to last at least a month.

The lockdown sparked record traffic jams around Paris on Thursday evening, with many people heading for rural accommodation.

Unlike during the March lockdown, Paris’ streets are busier now and schools and workplaces remain open.

However, people need permits to leave home.

The downloadable exemptions are for essential shopping, trips for medical reasons or for getting to work. Home-working is urged wherever possible.

The French government has issued stricter hygiene rules for schools: they must keep class sizes small and masks are now required from the age of six.

Germany is expected to introduce “lockdown light” measures on Monday, with tighter restrictions on people’s movements, though not as tough as the French regime.

Poland now has its highest level of restrictions to date, with public gatherings banned, most schools closed and restaurants and cafes only offering take-away service.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU had set aside €220m to help transfer Covid patients from hard-hit member states to other nations with spare hospital beds. The Netherlands has already arranged to send some patients to Germany.

Thirteen of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions have stopped movement in and out of their areas. Valencia is the latest to close its borders for the next week.

Almost all of Austria has turned red on its four-level at-risk traffic light system. That means outbreaks are out of control and the virus is widespread.

Greeks are waiting to hear what PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis will announce today – with medical experts warning that tough measures are required. He is keen to avoid a national lockdown, so overnight curfews are most likely.

Belgians are braced for more restrictions to be announced on Friday, as more than half the country’s 2,000 intensive care beds are full.

Russian infections have surged to a record 18,283, with 355 new deaths.


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