Covid: France and Germany announce new national lockdowns amid rising cases

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

France has followed Germany by announcing a new nationwide lockdown to curb the rising spread of coronavirus.

In a televised address to the nation, French president Emmanuel Macron announced strict new measures which will see bars and restaurants close from this Friday. Harsh new measures will be introduced to stop people travelling to different regions within France.

Like in Germany, schools will remain open.

France has been reporting tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases per day and recorded 288 new virus-deaths in hospitals in the 24 hours until Tuesday.

“(France has been) overpowered by a second wave,” Macron said in a national televised address Wednesday.

“Nothing is more important than human life,” he added, noting that France has one of the biggest coronavirus rates in Europe currently.

“We are having 40,000-50,000 new identified contaminations each day,” he said.

More than half of France's intensive care beds are already occupied by Covid-19 patients.

Earlier on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a four week lockdown from Monday which will last until the end of November.

Under the new restrictions, bars, restaurants, theatres and leisure centres will close but schools and nurseries will remain open.

Announcing the new restrictions, Ms Merkel said: “We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency.”

France will enter a new national lockdown on Friday. Credit: AP

Mrs Merkel appealed to people not to make unnecessary journeys and said hotels will not be able to accommodate people on tourist trips.

Restaurants will still be allowed to serve take-out food.

Shops and schools are to remain open, unlike during Germany’s shutdown during the first phase of the pandemic.

The decision came hours after Germany’s disease control agency said a record 14,964 new confirmed cases were recorded across the country in the past day, taking the national total in the pandemic to 449,275.

Germany also recorded 27 more virus-related deaths, raising its overall death toll to 10,098, the Robert Koch Institute said on Wednesday.

“We can say that our health system can cope with the challenge today,” Mrs Merkel said. “But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we’ll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks.”

France is also weighing up whether to introduce stricter new measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Angela Merkel announced new restrictions would be imposed on Germany. Credit: AP

More than half of the country’s intensive care units are already occupied by Covid-19 patients.

French military and commercial planes are ferrying critically ill virus patients to other regions as hospitals fill up and French doctors have called on the government to impose a new nationwide lockdown.