France, Germany institute new lockdown measures in response to coronavirus

france lockdown coronavirus
Photo via Patrick Nouhailler/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

In response to rising coronavirus numbers in their countries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron announced partial lockdown measures. For France, the lockdown will begin on Oct. 30 as positive cases continue to rise dramatically.

In Germany, the measures will begin Nov. 2 and last four weeks, though Merkel said there would be a reassessment period in two weeks. As CNN reported, bars, clubs, and restaurants will be closed during the lockdown period to “avoid a national health emergency.” Germans will be advised to stay home, avoid travel, and minimize contact with others. Social contacts will be limited to two households in public. Schools will be open during this period, however.

DW reported Merkel’s decision was motivated by a spike in cases in Germany and its impact on hospitals. Merkel, calling the situation “an acute national health care emergency,” noted the number of people in intensive care units doubled in the past 10 days. She also cited the difficulty public health workers were having in tracking and tracing infection chains, with the source of infection unknown in 75% of recent cases.

On Oct. 25, Germany surpassed the 10,000 mark for the first time ever in its seven-day average for new cases, according to the New York Times. Oct. 23’s single-day new case count of 14,714 was Germany’s largest one-day total.

In France, where Macron announced a lockdown starting Oct. 30, the numbers are even starker. Oct. 25’s new case count was 52,010, the highest single-day mark since the pandemic started. France has also been setting records for the seven-day average of new case numbers every day since Oct. 4, as the New York Times illustrated.

Those could actually be even higher, though. CNN reported that Jean-François Delfraissy, who leads the scientific council that advises the French government, warned France could actually have about 100,000 new coronavirus cases per day between what’s been diagnosed and what hasn’t.

During the France lockdown, Macron noted people would only be allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons, according to the BBC. Schools and factories will remain open under the lockdown, but bars and restaurants will close. He characterized the measure as a sharp application of the brakes to keep France from being “submerged by the acceleration of the epidemic.” As in Germany, concerns about ICU bed capacity are driving the decision for France’s lockdown.

As Merkel did, Macron pledged a reassessment of the numbers in two weeks for a possible calibration, though he also expressed “hope that families will be able to be reunited for Christmas.”

Sources: CNN, DW, New York Times [1] [2], BBC

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