Germany, Poland institute new measures to fight coronavirus

Germany and Poland enforced new restrictions to fight the coronavirus Saturday as the number of cases surged in Europe, and breached 10 million in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Women with anti-coronavirus masks pass by an ambulance team wearing anti-Covid-19 PPE at a hospital in Warsaw, Poland, on October 8, 2020.
Women with anti-coronavirus masks pass by an ambulance team wearing anti-Covid-19 PPE at a hospital in Warsaw, Poland, on October 8, 2020. © Czarek Sokolowski, AP Photo

Bars and restaurants are to close at 11:00 pm local time in Berlin until October 31 in a partial curfew, a measure already imposed -- but starting an hour earlier -- in the financial capital Frankfurt.

The shutdown in the German capital -- with more than 400 new cases daily -- also covers all shops except pharmacies and petrol stations, although they will be banned from selling alcohol.

"This is not the time to party," said Berlin's social democratic mayor Michael Muller. "We can and we want to prevent another more severe confinement."

Chancellor Angela Merkel had already warned Friday that high-infection areas would be given 10 days to bring down cases or face tougher action, calling big cities the "arena" to keep the coronavirus pandemic under control.

Neighbouring Poland announced new measures on Saturday to curb the pandemic after reporting record infections for a fifth straight day, but it stopped short of introducing mandatory distance learning for schools.

Seniors would now have special shopping hours every morning from 10am to noon, and care homes would receive an extra 38 million zlotys in government funding,Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.

Restrictions announced on Thursday, including wearing masks outside at all times, went into effect on Saturday. The additional measures targeting seniors will go into force starting October 15.

Ministry data showed that 28,300 tests for coronavirus were carried out in Poland in the last 24 hours with 5,300 confirmed cases.

To the south, the Czech Republic faced the prospect of a new lockdown as the growth in Covid-19 cases set a fourth straight daily record. The number of 8,618 was the fastest spike in Europe.

Flu season

Governments on several continents are struggling to keep up with a sharp rise in infections as the pandemic's second wave arrives ahead of the northern hemisphere's influenza season.

EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel was the latest high-profile figure to test positive for Covid-19. She announced the news on Saturday, the first top Brussels official known to have caught the coronavirus.

Gabriel, the EU commissioner for research and innovation, had already announced on Monday she would self-isolate after a member of her team tested positive for the virus.

British cyclist Simon Yates pulled out of the Giro d'Italia after he tested positive.

And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who himself spent time in hospital for the virus, is to outline a new three-tier lockdown system on Monday.

On Friday, the Spanish government declared a state of emergency and a new partial lockdown for Madrid, as it faced increasing public resistance to anti-virus measures.

People were barred from leaving the city except for work, school or medical reasons, measures denounced by the city's rightwing authorities.

The resistance in Madrid echoes problems the French government faced last month when it shut bars and restaurants in Marseille, provoking the fury of local officials.

>> French health workers ‘traumatised’ as Covid-19 resurges

Partial shutdowns have since been extended to Paris and other major urban areas, and another four French cities were placed on maximum coronavirus alert on Thursday, with bars ordered closed and public gatherings limited.

Since it emerged in China late last year, the virus has killed more than one million worldwide, infected more than 36 million and forced millions more out of work as the pandemic batters the global economy.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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