COVID-19 CRISIS

Renewed Covid curbs for England, Italy as US sets grim daily record

The British National Gallery seen from an unusually quiet Trafalgar Square.
The British National Gallery seen from an unusually quiet Trafalgar Square. © Vivian Oswald

England's 56 million people joined much of western Europe in a second coronavirus lockdown on Thursday, as the United States set a daily record with close to 100,000 new infections. 

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European governments are struggling to contain a fresh wave of the pandemic, which has now infected more than 11 million across the continent.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an England-wide shutdown as daily death tolls hit their worst levels since May and with warnings that hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.

The move prompted crowds across the nation to queue outside soon-to-close shops, book a last-minute haircut or head to the pub for a final pint, as business owners fretted over the impact of the lockdown on their bottom line.

The new restrictions run until 2 December and mandate a return to working from home where possible, along with the closure of all non-essential shops and services. Schools will stay open.

Britain is among the world's hardest-hit countries with just over a million virus cases and nearly 48,000 deaths.

England's lockdown follows similar measures in the other nations of the United Kingdom -- Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland -- as well as France and Germany.

Parts of Italy will join that list from Friday, with shops selling non-essential goods to be shut in hard-hit areas and people largely confined to their homes except for work, health and emergency reasons.

Authorities in Rome have also announced a nationwide curfew between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am.

"We don't have alternatives," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said during a televised press conference on Wednesday night.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said he had no plans for a lockdown but that resolve may be tested after the country set two new records Wednesday -- for daily infections, at nearly 20,000, and daily death toll, at nearly 400.

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