Germany broadcasts new Covid restrictions, France is getting extra ready because the virus will increase throughout Europe

Doctor Henri Faure and medical staff treat a patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Robert Ballanger hospital in Aulnay-sous-Bois near Paris during the coronavirus disease outbreak in France. October 26, 2020.

Gonzalo Fuentes | Reuters

German officials announced tough new business restrictions on Wednesday to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and France is preparing for further action ahead of the president’s address.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday the country would introduce a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, cinemas, theaters and a few other facilities from November 2 in an attempt to bring the virus under control.

Merkel told reporters that the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units across the country has doubled in the past 10 days. She added that German hospitals will reach capacity in the coming weeks if this pace continues.

“These are tough measures,” she said. “We must act now to avoid an acute national health emergency.”

Shops, schools and day-care centers will remain open but will face new capacity constraints. Restaurants will remain open to take away, said Merkel. She pleaded with citizens to avoid unnecessary travel.

“We can say that our health system can meet the challenge today,” said Merkel. “But if the pace of infections continues, we’ll be pushing the limits of what the healthcare system can handle in a matter of weeks.”

According to its disease control authority, Germany reported a record increase of 14,964 new cases on Wednesday. According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the country has reported an average of 11,100 new cases of the virus per day over the past week, up more than 61% from a week ago.

Amid growing fears that the surge in cases and the government’s response to it could destroy an already volatile economy, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said November would be a critical month.

“November will be a month of truth,” said Scholz. “The increasing number of infections is forcing us to take tough countermeasures in order to break the second wave with targeted and temporary measures, including effective financial support for the affected companies.”

The virus is soaring in much of the northern hemisphere as colder weather sets in, forcing people indoors, and spreading it more easily. European officials have also attributed the surge to “pandemic fatigue,” meaning people are tired of strictly adhering to public health measures.

France is also preparing for new restrictions. President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. The country has reported an average of more than 38,700 new cases of the virus per day for the past week, up over 54% from a week ago, data from Johns Hopkins shows.

Italy reported a record increase of 24,991 new cases on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said. The country has reported an average of more than 18,600 new cases of the virus per day for the past week, up over 88% from a week ago, data from Johns Hopkins shows.

“We are now deep in the second wave,” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, at a press conference on Wednesday.

– CNBC’s Reuters, The Associated Press and Nate Rattner contributed to this report.

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