France and Germany plunge back into lockdown as second COVID-19 wave sweeps Europe

France and Germany plunge back into lockdown as second COVID-19 wave sweeps Europe
1 / 2
A man wearing a mask walks in the street in the center of Lyon, central France, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. France is bracing for a potential new lockdown as the president prepares a televised address Wednesday aimed at stopping a fast-rising tide of virus patients filling French hospitals and a growing daily death toll. (AP)
France and Germany plunge back into lockdown as second COVID-19 wave sweeps Europe
2 / 2
This file photo taken on March 20, 2020 shows a closed Italian restaurant in Cuxhaven, northern Germany, as many activities slowed down or came to a halt to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 October 2020

France and Germany plunge back into lockdown as second COVID-19 wave sweeps Europe

France and Germany plunge back into lockdown as second COVID-19 wave sweeps Europe
  • Germany faces ‘month of truth’ in November
  • Second wave likely to be deadlier than first, says Macron

BERLIN/PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.
World stock markets went into a dive in response to the news that Europe’s biggest economies were imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations.
“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” Macron said in a televised address. “Like all our neighbors, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.”
“We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.”
Under the new French measures which come into force on Friday, people will be required to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or exercise for up to one hour a day. They will be permitted to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home. Schools will stay open.
Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theaters from Nov. 2-30 under measures agreed between Merkel and heads of regional governments. Schools will stay open, and shops will be allowed to operate with strict limits on access.
“We need to take action now,” Merkel said. “Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”
Her finance minister, Olaf Scholz, posted on Twitter: “November will be a month of truth. The increasing numbers of infections are forcing us to take tough countermeasures in order to break the second wave.”
France has surged above 36,000 new cases a day. Germany, which was less hard-hit than its European neighbors early this year, has seen an exponential rise in cases.
A new wave of infections has been setting records in the United States, with six days to go before Election Day. President Donald Trump has played down the virus and shows no sign of canceling public rallies where his supporters often refuse to wear masks.
European stock markets closed at their lowest levels since late May on Wednesday. In the United States, the S&P 500 was down 3%.


Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

Updated 04 December 2020

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal

Germany wants broader Iran nuclear deal
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal

BERLIN: Germany said Friday that a new broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached to also rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile program, warning that the 2015 deal was no longer enough.
“A form of ‘nuclear agreement plus’ is needed, which also lies in our interest,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told Spiegel magazine in an interview.
“We have clear expectations for Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic rocket program which threatens the whole region. Iran must also play another role in the region.”
“We need this accord because we distrust Iran,” he added.
The 2015 nuclear deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
The European Union and the United States were key signatories in the deal but US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.
President-elect Joe Biden has signalled that Washington could rejoin the deal as a starting point for follow-on negotiations if Iran returned to compliance.
But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected talk of reopening the 2015 deal, saying on Thursday: “We will not renegotiate a deal which we negotiated.”
He added that Western powers should look to their own behavior before criticizing Iran.
He also complained at what he characterised as a lack of European outrage at the assassination of one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside Tehran last week — an attack Tehran has blamed on Israel.
Decades old US-Iranian tensions dramatically escalated after Trump walked out of the deal.
In recent months, alarm has also grown over Iran’s regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, which the West says destabilizes the region.