England and Belgium are joining other European countries like France, Germany, and the Czech Republic in introducing national lockdowns in light of rising COVID-19 cases. England is planning to shut down for at least a month in an effort to contain the recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
England’s lockdown will require pubs, restaurants, and nonessential businesses like gyms and hair salons to close. People will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons, including school, work, grocery shopping, medical reasons, and outdoor exercise. Unsurprisingly, nonessential travel is discouraged.
The shutdown will be reevaluated on December 2 and potentially lifted on a region-by-region basis if the public health situation improves.
Similarly, Belgium has reintroduced lockdown measures, shuttering nonessential shops and businesses that offer personal services until mid-December. The autumn school holidays have been extended until November 15, supermarkets are only permitted to sell essential goods, households are only allowed one visitor, and gatherings in public spaces are limited to four people.
England and Belgium join other countries like France and Germany, which also announced new lockdowns at the end of last month. France’s lockdown measures will be in effect through December 1.
“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. “Like in the spring, you will be able to leave your house only to work, for a medical appointment, to provide assistance to a relative, to shop for essential goods or to go for a walk near your house.”
Schools, factories, and public services will remain open during this time. Visits to care homes — which had been banned during the last lockdown — will be permitted. The measures will be reassessed every two weeks after December 1, in hopes that these strict measures will curb the virus’ spread.
Germany enacted similar but softer restrictions. A four-week partial lockdown began November 2, with social contact limited to two households and a maximum of 10 people, and the closure of movie theaters, bars, leisure facilities, and indoor restaurant dining.
“Our health system can cope with the challenge today,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel, “But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we’ll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks.”
A version of this article was previously published on October 29, 2020, and was updated on November 2, 2020, with more information.