France state of emergency, UK lockdown


A nurse gets ready to enter a room to take care of a patient infected with Covid-19 at the intensive care unit of the Lariboisiere Hospital of the AP-HP (Assistance Publique – Hopitaux de Paris) in Paris, on October 14, 2020.

LUCAS BARIOULET | AFP | Getty Images

European leaders are scrambling to put a cap on surging infections in the region, with governments reimposing sweeping restrictions and shutdowns in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. 

The situation has got to a point now where, in the last 24 hours, France has declared a public health state of emergency, the U.K. is approaching a second national lockdown and Germany has introduced a raft of new rules in an effort to lower the infection rate.

Europe now has over 7.2 million confirmed cases of the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and hospitalizations are rising at a worrying rate.

Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson on Tuesday characterized rising cases in Europe as “out of control,” even when compared to the U.S., the nation with the highest number of cases, at 7.9 million, according to Johns Hopkins University’s data.

State of emergency

The French government declared a public health state of emergency on Wednesday as the country saw hospitalizations from Covid-19 jump above the 9,100 threshold for the first time since June 25, Reuters reported. New confirmed cases of coronavirus in France reached 22,591 on Wednesday, public health data showed, up from 12,993 cases the day before. The state of emergency gives officials more power to deal with the spread of Covid-19.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced later on Wednesday that nine of the country’s largest cities, including Paris, will have to abide by a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.  This starts on Saturday, will last for four weeks and means that residents of those cities will not be allowed out between those hours except in exceptional circumstances. “We have to act. We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus,” Macron said.

Germany toughens rules

UK considers second lockdown

The U.K. government introduced a new Covid-19 alert level system earlier this week, with the city of Liverpool and its suburban areas designated as “very high” risk and put under a strict local lockdown. Households in the area are not allowed to mix indoors or outdoors, and gyms, leisure centers, betting shops and casinos are closed. Pubs and bars have to close too, unless they serve food.

The strictest measures could now be expanded to other parts of northern England, including Manchester. The city’s mayor, Andy Burnham, said he is meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s team on Thursday morning to discuss what to do next.

Johnson is under pressure to go further to curb the spread of the virus, with the government’s scientific advisors advocating for a second national lockdown, albeit it a shorter, two-week shutdown, to act as a “circuit breaker” to stop the spread. The leader of the opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer, on Tuesday added his support to the calls for a lockdown. The U.K. reported 19,724 new cases Wednesday, up from 17,234 Tuesday.

Sentiment deteriorates

Coronavirus concerns are weighing on market sentiment Thursday as investors react to the situation.

Deutsche Bank strategists led by Jim Reid said that Wednesday’s developments reflected “sadly yet another day of bad news out of Europe,” and warned that Italy was also seeing a sharp rise in cases, having lagged its neighbors in seeing a second wave.

“With Italy reporting a record number of cases at 7,332 (albeit with much higher levels of testing now than back in March) the rise in numbers there are bringing it more into line with the recent increase we’ve seen in the U.K. and France in recent weeks, though Italy’s numbers still remain at lower levels by comparison,” he said in a note on Thursday.



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