Roundup: internal travel restrictions, lockdowns return across Europe
Madrid Desk, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- Internal travel restrictions are increasingly being re-imposed across Europe, where coronavirus cases have been on the rise for weeks; a national curfew took effect in Italy while the British House of Commons voted for nationwide lockdown in England.
After two months of steadily increasing infections making it the most affected country in Europe by Covid, Belgium is starting to see a reduction in the number of new infections as the effects of the progressive restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus become apparent.
Although the cumulative incidence in Belgium is still the highest in Europe, with 1,775 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days, the weekly average of people with Covid-19 has dropped by 4 percent, marking the first decrease in infections since the second wave of the pandemic began in late summer.
The figures appear to validate restrictions that were progressively imposed throughout the past month, including nightly curfews and the closure of hotels, leisure, culture, sports, as well as the obligation to work remotely where possible. Non-essential businesses have also stopped their activity, a measure whose impact on the epidemiological situation is expected to begin to be felt at the end of next week.
Germany registered 17,214 new cases of Covid-19 and 151 deaths in the past 24 hours, the Robert Koch Institute reported on Wednesday. This is the fourth consecutive day in which the number of new daily infections remains below the record set on Saturday (19,059) and is the highest number of Covid deaths since May 6.
In total, Germany has recorded 577,593 infections – of which some 371,500 have already been recovered – and 10,812 deaths, a significantly lower figure, in relative terms, than that of neighboring countries like Belgium, France, or the Netherlands.
The national government and Germany’s federal states agreed to a series of restrictions on social life and economic activity during November to curb the surge of the pandemic in the country. Bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas, theaters, swimming pools, brothels and gyms must remain closed this month, although stores and schools remain open.
Seventy percent of the Portuguese population went into lockdown on Monday, a measure that affects 121 counties, including the major cities of Lisbon and Porto. People will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential activities such as work, study, shopping or helping dependents.
The difference with the situation six months ago during the pandemic’s first wave is that this time schools, stores and restaurants will remain open – until 10pm for shops and 10:30pm for bars and restaurants – and cultural events that meet health standards will be allowed.
Since the pandemic began, Portugal has recorded 149,443 cases and 2,635 deaths.
The House of Commons voted to give the green light prime minister Boris Johnson’s proposal to reimpose lockdown measures in England.
The vote passed with support from both sides of the House, meaning the measures will take effect on Thursday. They will remain in force until at least December 2.
Bars, restaurants, gyms, beauty salons and other stores that sell non-essential items will have to close, but schools and universities will remain open.
The UK reported 492 deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest daily figure since last May 19 when 500 deaths were reported, bringing the total of deaths to 47,742 since the beginning of the pandemic, the health ministry said. EFE