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%.


Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint
Updated 22 min 20 sec ago

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint

Heavily armed man arrested at Washington security checkpoint
  • Washington is under a high state of alert ahead of Biden’s Wednesday inauguration
  • Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists pose a threat to Washington

WASHINGTON: A heavily armed man has been arrested in Washington at a security checkpoint near the US Capitol, where President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated next week, authorities said.
Wesley Allen Beeler, of Virginia, was taken into custody after police found him with a handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition, shotgun shells and a magazine for the gun, according to a police report obtained by AFP.
He had tried to pass through the checkpoint using fake inaugural credentials, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement source.
Washington is under a high state of alert ahead of Biden’s Wednesday inauguration, after a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Five people died in the assault, including a police officer.
Security officials have warned that armed pro-Trump extremists, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.
Thousands of National Guard troops have been deployed in Washington and streets have been blocked off downtown with concrete barriers.
The National Mall, which is normally packed with people every four years for presidential inaugurations, has been declared off-limits at the request of the Secret Service, which ensures the security of the president.