Europe faces a new wave of lockdowns in response to surging cases of Covid-19, forcing millions to once again stay at home in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. Other regions, including North America, India and Brazil, are currently less restrictive.

Coronavirus

New wave of lockdowns grip Europe and UK, but spare construction

In the UK, a new directive goes into effect on 5 November, stipulating that everyone in England must stay home, except for a limited set of reasons including education, work (if you cannot work from home), exercise and outdoor recreation, medical appointments and emergencies, shopping for food or essentials, and providing care for vulnerable people and/or volunteering. (There are different approaches in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.)

According to reports, construction remains essential. In an address to the nation last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the sector should continue operating during the new period of restrictions, set to run from 5 November until 2 December.

“The virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers […] so now is the time to take action because there is no alternative,” he was quoted. “Workplaces should stay open for where people can’t work from home, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.”

New lockdowns are in effect throughout Europe as well, where, as in the UK, construction is set to continue as an essential service.

Germany’s directive went into effect on 2 November and will last until the end of the month.

Bars, pubs, gyms and cinemas are closed, while restaurants remain open for takeaway only after leading officials decided that a so-called “lockdown light” was necessary to fight the sharp rise in new infections.

On 29 October, French president Emmanuel Macron said Covid-19 had overwhelmed France and declared a second national lockdown to take effect from 30 October until at least 1 December.

People in France are only allowed to go to work – though working from home is recommended whenever possible – buy essential goods, attend medical appointments and exercise one hour a day. They are also banned from travelling between regions and must remain within 1km from their homes and carry a form when they are outside. Construction activity will continue.

Italy has refrained from introducing a second lockdown so far, though the government is expected to usher in new restrictions in the next few days to fight the exponential rise in the number of new infections and people in need of intensive care.

Meanwhile, in Spain, the government has declared a state of emergency, introducing a curfew between 11pm and 6 am in all regions except the Canary Islands.

In India, things are less restrictive. Satyendar Jain, Delhi health minister said on 31 October that as the virus has spread to the community, it is “impossible to eliminate the spread of coronavirus through a lockdown” and people should wear masks as a vaccine until the real treatment/medication is available.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a longtime critic of stay-at-home measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, has said that it was “crazy” for countries to start locking down again to control second waves of the virus.

Finally, in the US, restrictions vary state by state, but the nation remains focused in the short term on its presidential election, taking place on 3 November.

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