Europe Endures Easter Closures As Covid Cases Eclipse Spring 2020 Levels

A woman walks past a sign showing a nurse wearing a protective mask and thanking all the professions that have supported the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on a street in Rennes, western France, on November 2, 2020 , as France is under a new general lockdown to curb the spread of the new Covid-19 coronavirus.

Damien Meyer | AFP | fake images

More than a year after the coronavirus first struck Europe, much of the continent spent Easter, usually a major holiday in the region, locked in as it grapples with a third wave of virus infections.

“It’s a big mess. Everyone is frustrated with the government,” Hannah Weiler, a medical student in Cologne, Germany, told CNBC.

Germany’s government abandoned plans for the national Easter blockade just one day after it was announced in late March, leaving the measures in the hands of the country’s 16 federal states, amid backlash from the public. But Chancellor Angela Merkel urged residents to stay home for the long weekend.

“Germany is an excellent example of the absurd,” Weiler said. The 16 federal states are doing their thing and the government seems unable to come up with a clear strategy. ”

“The mood started to go downhill,” he said, “what politicians interpreted as a desire for looser restrictions, so they started opening stores … Surprise, surprise, cases are increasing and now we are in the third wave “.

Germany has recorded a total of just over 2.9 million coronavirus cases and more than 77,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Its daily case count for the past month has ranged from around 9,000 to 20,000 a day, still not approaching the peak of 49,000 cases in a single day at the end of December. Germany’s peak in the spring of last year, which triggered its initial lockdown, was just over 6,000.

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask passes a street art mural by French street artist JBC, in tribute to health workers representing a nurse wearing a protective mask in reference to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on March 24, 2021 in Paris. , France.

Chesnot | fake images

France and Italy imposed nationwide lockdowns ahead of Easter weekend, as a surge in cases related to the most contagious variant first identified in the UK late last year threatened to overwhelm intensive care units an one more time.

Italy announced a strict three-day closure for the normally vibrant holidays in the strongly Catholic country, banning all non-essential travel but allowing churches to remain open and allowing people to have Easter meals at home with a maximum of two other adults. .

Italy has recorded 3.6 million cases of the virus and more than 111,000 deaths, the highest death count in Europe after the United Kingdom. Their daily case rate is around 20,000, according to Hopkins. This is about half the number seen during its peak in November, but up from around 13,000 cases per day in February and well above its spring 2020 peak of around 6,000 per day.

France: daily cases have tripled since February

New daily Covid cases in France have risen, with the country registering more than 66,000 new cases on Sunday alone, triple the daily rate of cases in February. Local media reports that French hospitals are overwhelmed.

This is more than 1,000% higher than during France’s first wave in the spring of last year, which recorded new cases daily in the 5,000 at the highest level in early April 2020, according to French government figures. Authorities now fear a return to the record infection levels of November, when the country recorded nearly 90,000 new cases in one day.

The EU has faced criticism for its vaccine launch, which lags behind that of the UK and the US.

Spain now fears a fate similar to that of France, and the Spanish Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, has urged regional health authorities to maintain vaccines during Easter week.

France has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe and the fourth highest number in the world with 4.8 million in total, and more than 96,000 deaths.

“At this point, almost everyone has lost confidence in how the French government is handling Covid,” Liz Warren, an American living in Paris, told CNBC.

“Nobody really understands certain measures that have been taken, that is, places of worship that remain open and non-essential stores that are forced to close. It is a big mess and I do not foresee this country catching up with the US. . Or the UK until at least the fall. “

But after months of changes in measures and inconsistent messages from the government, many in France do not believe that the blocking rules are widely followed.

“For me, with the third confinement, I have had enough,” said Romain Baudelet, a student from the coastal city of La Rochelle. “I don’t think it continues very well here.”


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