The Czech Republic is imposing a three-week partial lockdown shutting schools, bars and clubs, as Europe struggles to contain a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
The country has the region’s highest new infection rate per 100,000 people. Restaurants will be closed and public consumption of alcohol is banned.
In the Netherlands, a partial lockdown was announced, and masks have become compulsory in public indoor spaces.
Meanwhile, hospital admissions are rising fast again in many countries.
Hospitals in Paris could have 90% of their intensive care beds filled by the end next week, Martin Hirsch, the head of public hospital group APHP, warned.
President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce further restrictions in a televised address on Wednesday. Local media reports suggest that cities considered hotspots, including Paris, could face evening curfews
Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “watching with great concern” the situation in Europe, and added: “I must say the situation continues to be serious.” German health officials reported more than 5,000 new cases on Wednesday, for the first time since April.
What was announced in the Czech Republic?
Schools, bars and clubs will be closed until 3 November while restaurants will be restricted to deliveries and takeaways, until 20:00.
University dorms are also being closed temporarily, and all school lessons will continue at home via the internet. Kindergartens will stay open and special provision will be made for the children of critical care workers.
Masks, already being worn in shops and on public transport, will also have to be worn at tram stops and on train platforms. The maximum for people gathering in a group, whether indoors or outside, will be six.
There have been 1,106 deaths from Covid-19 in the Czech Republic since 1 March, when the country identified its first cases. The highest number of deaths in one day – 55 – was reported on Monday and more than 8,000 new cases were announced on Thursday, for only the second time since the pandemic began.
In its report for 13 October the EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows that confirmed new Covid cases in the Czech Republic in the past 14 days totalled 55,538 – higher than the 42,032 in neighbouring Germany, whose population is eight times bigger.