The coming weeks will be the hardest yet, a stark warning from Chancellor Angela Merkel as Germany passed the 40,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The virus is accelerating across Europe and although Germany fared better than most nations during the first wave, it’s now being hit hard by the second.
“It is the beginning of the year with mixed feelings. There is the hope we associate with this new year, the justified hope that step by step we will get the coronavirus under control and get our freedom back,” said Merkel.
“There is this dangerous second wave of the pandemic that our country is in, like so many European countries. These next weeks of winter will probably be the most difficult phase of the pandemic,” the German chancellor added.
Sweden, which has resisted lockdown measures relying mostly on the public following official health recommendations, is also battling a second wave. It has now enacted an emergency law allowing the government to limit the number of people in shops, businesses, and public places and is able to fine transgressors.
In France 25 departments are either under a 6 pm to 6 am nightly curfew or soon will be as nearly 16,000 new infections were confirmed.
There is also a rush to shut down clusters of the new highly transmissible Covid variant originally identified in the UK. There have been seven more cases in Marseille.
Michèle Rubirola is Marseille’s deputy mayor:
“It occurred during a family celebration. A person came from England, to join the family here and that’s how they got infected.”
But Covid restrictions are being resisted by some. In the Czech Republic, thousands gathered in Prague’s historic Old Town Square for a “Let’s Open Czechia” rally. Stanislav Holman was one of the protesters in attendance:
“They are restricting contacts between people, social bonds between people. They’re trying to take our lives away from us and dictate what we can and cannot do. We can’t allow that.”
Czech hospitals are currently packed with Covid-19 patients where staff are struggling with one of the highest infection rates in Europe.