Europe's pandemic woes multiply with leaders drifting to lockdowns

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a month-long national lockdown in the United Kingdom as a response to concerning coronavirus numbers.

The Prime Minister said that without action, deaths would reach "several thousand a day", with a "peak of mortality" worse than the country saw during the lockdown in April.

Under the new measures, which will be effective until December 2, people in England will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons, such as education, work or food shopping, said Johnson. Germany will begin a partial shutdown Monday, with bars, restaurants, leisure facilities and cultural venues shut, while schools and most shops remain open.

Unlike the first complete lockdown in March, schools, colleges and universities will be allowed to stay open.

He said: "It is my honest hope and belief that by taking tough action now we can allow families across the country to be together".

Lucy Powell, business spokesperson for the opposition Labour Party, accused the government of "dithering" and said the country was now facing a longer lockdown than if Johnson had acted sooner.

The new four-week lockdown follows a stricter three-week lockdown implemented earlier this year, which closed down bars and restaurants, restricting such establishments to take-out only.

The lockdown plans will be tabled in the British Parliament next week for a debate and vote by Wednesday, for them to come in effect from Thursday.

More than 19 000 new cases were reported on Friday, the second-highest daily number yet.

There were calls for similar action in England, but Boris Johnson said they should carry on as normal.

Documents from the government's Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) revealed this week that England has breached its "reasonable worst-case" scenario for COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions for the winter months.

A government program that has paid the wages of millions of furloughed employees during the pandemic ends Saturday, replaced by less-generous measures that are likely to bring a surge in unemployment.

"We now have the immediate prospect of using many millions of cheap, reliable, and above all, rapid turnaround tests ... that you can use yourself to tell you whether or not you're infectious and get the result within 10 to 15 minutes".

"The changes mean people should WFH where possible".

"We must act now", Johnson said, flanked by his chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and his chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance.

The stay-at-home measures were lifted in June as cases dwindled, with Johnson declaring in July the country could see "a more significant return to normality from November.possibly in time for Christmas".

Churches will remain open for private prayer, funerals will be limited to 30 people - although it is advised that only close family members attend - and weddings are only allowed in "exceptional circumstances".

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