As Germany extends COVID-19 lockdown, a look at countries where curbs remain on movement, economic activities
Across the world, several countries continue to have some forms of restrictions on internal movement of people, over a year since the novel coronavirus was first reported in China
Germany on Tuesday became the latest country to extend its coronavirus -induced lockdown in an attempt to curb high infection rates. Across the world, several countries continue to have some forms of restrictions on the internal movement of people, over a year since the novel coronavirus was first reported in China.
Many countries in Europe, in particular, are imposing a number of restrictions on movement as well as economic activities. The emergence of a new, more contagious strain first identified in the United Kingdom has also led to renewed concerns about the virus worldwide. Till 5 January, the new strain of the virus has been identified in a total of 41 countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
In this context, here is a look at countries that have extended lockdowns:
Germany launched a nationwide partial shutdown on 2 November, closing restaurants, bars, leisure and sports facilities. That failed to reduce infections, and the current lockdown — which also closed nonessential shops and schools — took effect 16 December. It was initially due to run through 10 January.
On Tuesday, the German government said it is extending the country's lockdown by three weeks until 31 January, tightening curbs on social contacts and planning limits on people's movements.
According to the new rules, authorities will allow people in areas with more than 200 new infections per 100,000 residents over seven days to travel only 15 kilometres (just over nine miles) from their hometown unless they have a good reason to go further.
A report in the Associated Press quoted authorities as saying that Germany's reported numbers for COVID-19 cases are distorted by lower testing and delayed reporting over the Christmas and New Year's period. The country's disease control center says it expects to have a reliable picture of what is going on only from 17 January, Merkel said.
But even according to the current figures, Germany is far from its declared aim of getting new confirmed cases below 50 per 100,000 residents over seven days — the maximum level at which officials say contact-tracing can work properly.
The number of people under England's top level of restrictions — Tier 4 — increased by 6 million on Saturday to 24 million people overall, around 43% of England's population. The region included London and many of its surrounding areas.
No indoor mixing of households is allowed, and only essential travel permitted. Gyms, pools, hairdressers and stores selling nonessential goods have been ordered to close and pubs and restaurants can only do takeout. Business groups say the restrictions will be economically devastating to their members.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland went into a six-week lockdown and in Wales, restrictions that were relaxed for Christmas Day were also re-imposed.
On 2 January, the British territory of Gibraltar also imposed a two-week lockdown after its chief minister said the virus was “propagating more quickly than we can control it”, according to a report in Financial Times.
The French government, facing the threat of a new wave of COVID-19 infections, lengthened an overnight curfew by two hours in parts of the country to help combat the virus.
The curfew will start at 6:00 pm, rather than 8:00 pm in parts of France, mainly in the country's east. Paris has, for now, been spared the additional restriction.
The new French restrictions came as police booked more than 1,200 revellers Saturday when an illegal rave in northwestern France finally ended after more than two days of partying that saw clashes with police.
Around 800 of them were booked for flouting anti-virus measures, and the regional health authority in Brittany noted a "high risk of the spread of COVID-19 " at the event.
Varying levels of lockdown restrictions in different states in the United States. In states like California and Indiana, where new infections are growing, restrictions have been tightened.
In Indiana, Governor Eric Holcomb on 4 January extended the public health emergency for an additional 30 days, according to USA Today. This order has now been extended 10 times. The state administration placed limits on social gatherings and school events for most of the state, and also made available $20 million to local officials to help ensure businesses adhere to the state’s mask and social distancing requirements.
California's governor Gavin Newsom had announced in December 2020 that he would issue stay-at-home orders in any region where the available beds in intensive care units dropped below 15 percent. As of now, many public places such as restaurants, bars, movie theatres and gyms are closed in the state, according to The New York Times.
China’s Hebei province is enforcing stricter control measures following a further rise in coronavirus cases in the province, which is adjacent to the capital Beijing and is due to host events for next year’s Winter Olympics.
The National Health Commission on Wednesday reported 20 more cases had been detected in Hebei, bringing the province’s total to 39 since Sunday.
The province’s top official said Tuesday that residents of areas classified as medium or high risk, primary neighbourhoods in the cities of Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, were being tested and barred from going out.
People in neighborhoods ranked as medium risk can leave only if they show a negative virus test. Classes are shifting to online learning and school dormitories placed on lockdown.
South Korea is extending stringent distancing rules for two more weeks as authorities seek to suppress a viral resurgence while confirming its first case of an apparently more contagious coronavirus variant detected in South Africa.
Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said Saturday the second-highest level of distancing rules will remain in place for the Seoul region until 17 January. He says the third-highest level of restrictions will stay in other areas until then.
The curbs include bans on social gatherings of more than five people and in-person religious services. The government will require foreigners entering South Korea to submit negative virus test results starting 8 January.
In Bangkok, the city's nightlife shut down following a ban on bars, nightclubs and restaurant alcohol sales, among a raft of restrictions aimed at curbing the kingdom's rising virus toll.
Public schools in the Thai capital are to close for two weeks.
An outbreak last month at a seafood market has led to a resurgence of the virus in Thailand, with infections detected in 53 of the kingdom's 77 provinces.
With inputs from agencies
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