London and Paris Impose New Strict Rules as COVID Cases Surge in Europe: 'Necessary to Save Lives'
A surge of coronavirus cases in Europe has left two of its biggest cities scrambling to enforce new rules, curfews and lockdowns in a bid to curb the spread.
Both London and Paris have seen an influx in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, prompting leaders to step in with new measures meant to keep people socially distant and in their homes as much as possible.
A curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. will hit France starting Friday night, affecting around 20 million people in Paris and eight other cities, including Lyon, Toulouse and Aix-Marseille, CNN reported.
These cities have also seen the closure of bars, gyms and swimming pools, and violators will face a 135 euro fine (about $158) for a first offense, according to CNN and the Associated Press.
Similar measures have been imposed in the U.K., too, with the British government unveiling a new three-tiered system this week that labels cities under medium, high or very high local COVID alert levels.
London falls under the second tier, meaning residents are not allowed to meet people outside their households in indoors settings and can only meet people outside in groups of six. Pubs and restaurants in the city must also close by 10 p.m., though schools, universities and non-essential retail remain open at all levels.
“Nobody wants to see more restrictions, [but they’re] necessary in order to protect Londoners lives,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said, according to the BBC. “This move is based on the expert public health and scientific advice about what is necessary to save lives in the capital.”
Police can break up groups larger than six people, and group members can be fined 200 pounds ($258) for a first offense, then double on each further offense up to 6,400 pounds ($8,267), according to the Metropolitan Police.
The number of confirmed COVID cases in Britain has more than tripled in the last three weeks, mainly in the northeast and northwest, according to the AP.
The outlet reported that according to the World Health Organization, there were more than 700,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Europe last week, a jump of 34 percent compared to the week prior.
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Britain, France, Russia and Spain made up more than half of those new infections, though the increase in cases was partly attributed to an increase in testing.
Though French restaurant owners have staged protests against the new measures, the government has said it will spend another 1 billion euros for “hard-hit sectors,” and will also expand temporary unemployment payments, the AP reported.
President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, reportedly said that the goal of the efforts is to reduce private contacts.
France has seen at least 779,063 total coronavirus cases, with 125,554 of those coming in just the last seven days, The New York Times reported. The U.K., meanwhile, has had at least 654,644 total cases, and 110,369 of those have come in the last seven days.
Elsewhere in Europe, pickup sports games and parties in closed spaces were banned in Italy, which also recently made outdoor mask-wearing mandatory, and ordered bars and restaurants closed by midnight, according to the AP.
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