COVID-19: Lockdown in England and Europe as COVID-19 Cases Surge
Ariel Go Jr
The acceleration of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe has forced multiple countries to enforce stringent social-distancing rules to prevent a return to full-blown lockdowns. In the final week of October, however, countries across Europe- including the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal- all recorded their highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began, Time reports.
According to The Guardian, Europe documented a total of 1.5 million new cases of COVID-19 in that same week, putting it at the epicenter of the pandemic once again. This has caused much of Europe to go back under lockdown, although many countries are dealing with the surge in different ways. Some countries, such as the United Kingdom and France, are shutting down almost everything they can, while others, such as Germany and Portugal, are opting for partial lockdowns.
To avoid a “medical and moral disaster,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a second national lockdown. The decision was made hours after the country surpassed the grim total of one million coronavirus cases. BBC News reports that England implemented the lockdown, which will last for at least four weeks, on November 5. The shutdown will remain in effect until December 2, at which point Prime Minister Johnson hopes that England will have gained control over the virus.
The reinstatement of this strict lockdown has, yet again, caused restaurants and non-essential business, like gyms and hair salons, to close down, according to the Associated Press. The government is only permitting people to leave their homes for particular reasons, including education, groceries, health, exercise and recreation outdoors. The government is discouraging non-essential travel, but will allow people to travel abroad for work, given that they quarantine under England’s rules upon their return to the country.
Politicians and doctors alike have called for stricter measures in France, where the lockdown situation is similar to that in England. One rule unique to France, though, is that its citizens are required to carry an exemption certificate if they need to leave their homes. As reported by Healthline, everyone must sign a form with a valid reason, such as essential shopping or medical necessity, and bring it with them for every outing. Introduced on Oct. 30, the national lockdown will last until Dec. 1.
On Nov. 2, Germany reported a seven-day average of approximately 17,000 cases, up 63 percent from the week prior. Germany has taken a different approach to this steep rise in cases. Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced a month-long “partial lockdown” starting Nov. 2 to prevent an overwhelming rise in the number of patients in their hospitals, according to Deutsche Welle. Germany will close bars, clubs, and theatres, with restaurants only allowed to deliver and provide takeout. Physicians in the country have argued against a lockdown and believe that Germany’s pre-lockdown restrictions are enough to keep the number of cases from shooting up. The country plans to spend more money on the strict enforcement of rules and making sure that they communicate the need to better follow these rules. Other countries, such as Hungary and Portugal, have implemented similar partial lockdowns.
Given that the amount of COVID-19 cases and deaths are increasing at a fast rate in European countries, governments have been forced to step up and take measures to help curb contagion. Politicians are signing-off on financial aid packages to aid owners of affected businesses for any losses that may occur. According to BBC News, COVID-19 has taken an emotional toll across Europe, known as pandemic fatigue, which makes people feel less motivated about following protective behaviors.
Along with pandemic fatigue, discontent is also building up among people. According to Bloomberg, anti-lockdown protests are taking place in Germany and in a few Italian cities. Local politicians and business owners have also defied orders to close small shops. Many citizens are disappointed in the way the government is handling the coronavirus, with 65 percent saying that the government is doing a poor job, according to a survey conducted by BBC News in early October.
While many remain skeptical, governments across Europe hope that their implemented lockdowns will be short. According to Times, countries across Europe state that people must continue to follow health guidelines to bring about an eventual curb to the spread of COVID-19.