Belgium imposes a nationwide overnight curfew from Monday and Switzerland has made wearing face masks compulsory in indoor public spaces, the latest measures by European governments to fight a powerful second coronavirus wave.
In Europe, more than 250,000 people have died, but the deepening crisis there stands in contrast to Australia, where the second-biggest city has begun easing a lockdown that kept millions of people largely confined to their homes for months.
Cafes and restaurants across Belgium were shuttered for four weeks as the country tackled its own infection spike, part of a continent-wide surge that has seen a 44-percent increase in cases across Europe in the past week. Some businesses have protested despite authorities warning the country was in the middle of an exponential increase in cases.
France on the weekend imposed its own overnight curfew in nine cities including Paris, affecting 20 million people, after announcing a record 32,400 new infections on Saturday. And Italy announced fresh curbs on Sunday night in response to its own snowballing second wave of contagion, after enduring Europe’s first major outbreak earlier this year. The new measures were intended to avoid harsher measures that could “seriously endanger” continental Europe’s third-largest economy, already reeling from a two-month nationwide lockdown only lifted in May.
An even longer lockdown began coming to an end in Australia on Monday, where the five million inhabitants of Melbourne were allowed to leave their homes for more than two hours a day for the first time since July.
Israel has also lifted restrictions that banned people from travelling more than a kilometre from their homes as well as closing kindergartens, beaches and national parks.