By Judith Ufford
As Europe battles a second wave of the CONVID 19 pandemic, France will reimpose a nationwide lockdown, while Germany will close bars and restaurants and impose other restrictions for a month in a last-ditch effort to protect hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with virus patients.
For months, European countries have tried to slow the spread of the virus through targeted restrictions aimed at avoiding the tough nationwide lockdowns imposed in the spring. But the measures have not succeeded at halting the surge in cases and hospitalizations, putting more drastic limits on daily life back in play.
This time, though, officials are prioritizing keeping schools and some economic activity open, in stark contrast to the spring, when movement was severely limited across much of Western Europe, and many businesses were ordered to close.
In a televised address on Wednesday evening, President Emmanuel Macron argued that officials had no choice but to impose another lockdown in the face of limited hospital capacity and rising cases across the country.
Mr. Macron stressed that much of Europe was facing a similar situation, “overwhelmed by a second wave that we now know will probably be harder and more deadly than the first.”
As in the spring, most nonessential businesses will close — including bars and restaurants — movement outside the home will be strictly limited, and private and public gatherings will be banned. Universities will pivot to online classes.
Some work sites, including in public services, factories, farms and construction, will remain open. While some people can travel to job sites, working from home will become the norm when possible, he said. Restrictions on retirement home visits and on funerals will not be as strict as in the spring.
“I know the weariness and the feeling of a day with no end,” Mr. Macron said, but he urged the French to remain “united.