COVID-19: Europe takes a turn to "save Christmas"

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Radio-Canada

Anger was mounting in Italy on Monday because of the new measures introduced in the face of the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic to save Christmas, while several European countries have imposed curfews or are considering lockdowns in the face of the second wave.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's decision to shut down restaurants and bars from 6 p.m. local time and all theaters, cinemas and sports halls for a month has been calledadmission of failure by its critics and made scientists wonder if that would be enough to stem the spread of the virus.

The disease continues to spread across Europe and Spain has imposed a new state of emergency as well as nightly curfews. Catalonia (north-east) is even considering confinement of the population at home on weekends and the neighboring region of Aragon has decided to seal off its territory.

France has set a new sad daily record with more than 52,000 additional cases of COVID-19. The prospect of a new confinement takes shape in the face of a second wave brutal who might even be stronger than the first, was alarmed Jean-François Delfraissy, the president of the Scientific Council which guides the government.

In Germany, the world-famous Nuremberg Christmas market, which attracts some two million visitors, was canceled this year.

The Slovenian government for its part announced the tightening from Tuesday of the partial containment in force and strengthened border controls.

In Norway, new restrictions will come into force in Oslo, where the compulsory wearing of a protective mask is notably extended. Bars in the capital, already forced to stop serving at midnight, will also no longer be able to accept new customers after 10 p.m.

And in Belgium, where the number of contaminations has tripled in five weeks, rising to 321,031 cases, the school holidays for All Saints' Day have been extended and schools forced to adapt to the strong progression of the virus so as not to risk worsen a situation already dramatic in healthcare structures.

Six medical staff are busy around a hospital bed on which a person is lying.

In Aulnay-sous-Bois, near Paris, a medical team is intervening with a person suffering from COVID-19.

Photo: Reuters / GONZALO FUENTES

More than a million dead in the world

The pandemic has killed at least 1.15 million people worldwide since the end of December and nearly 43.1 million cases have been diagnosed, according to an AFP count.

However, some see the end of the tunnel: Melbourne, Australia's second largest city, is expected to come out of containment this week after about four months of restrictions which have been very expensive.

In contrast, the United States saw a record number of new cases of COVID-19 this weekend, with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden accusing President Donald Trump's government of agitating the white flag of defeat after his chief of staff admitted that he "was not going to control the pandemic".

The restrictions are also weighing on political life: in Germany, Angela Merkel's conservative party has announced the postponement of its congress in early December to elect a new president and potential candidate for the chancellery in 2021, for lack of being able to bring together its delegates in due to a worsening of the pandemic.

The European Union for its part has decided to reduce the physical meetings of officials and experts, in favor of videoconferences, due to the increase in the number of contaminations in Brussels.

The new restrictive measures are often unpopular, as in Italy where they deal a severe blow to sectors already hard hit after strict national containment last spring.

But these measures will allow us to be more serene by Christmas, explained the Italian Prime Minister, while warning that the festive celebrations will still be out of the question at the end of the year.

Stop! We have issued a decree to save you!, launched Monday Giuseppe Conte to Santa Claus preparing to commit suicide, in a satirical drawing on one of the main daily in his country, the Corriere della Sera.

With these new restrictions, we are going to close. Our establishment is not located in a city center, we are in the provinces, our customers come in the evening or during the weekendGiuseppe Tonon, 70, owner of a restaurant in Oderzo, a small village in the north-east, whose photo has made the rounds on social networks, told AFP.

According to the FIPE-Confcommercio union, the new Italian measures will cost the restaurant industry around 2.7 billion euros more.

The new measures decided by the Italian government have been severely criticized.

He has been sailing on sight for eight months with the prime minister signing a decree every four days to appear on television, accused Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Fratelli d'Italia party (FDI, far right).

For Matteo Salvini, the boss of the League (far right), the main Italian party, the new restrictions are madness, a confinement that does not say its name.

In Wales, the restrictions have also caused anger and confusion. No right to buy books or baby clothes, even in open stores: confined since Friday and limited to product purchases essential, more than 65,000 Welsh had signed Monday a petition demanding the abandonment of these rules considered disproportionate.


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