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City, UK. A hand written sign on a window of a shop announcing it's closure in Swansea city centre, south Wales, on the day before non-essential shops close due to the 'Firebreak Lockdown' which has been implemented by the Welsh Government.
Shoppers in Swansea ahed of Wales firebreak lockdown - 22 Oct 2020
Wales is introducing a 'firebreak' lockdown. What this means
04:16 - Source: CNN
London CNN  — 

Tens of millions more people across Europe face tougher coronavirus restrictions going into the weekend as countries across the region battle to bring down rising infection rates.

A two-week “firebreak” lockdown comes into force at 6 p.m. local time Friday in Wales, under which everyone except critical workers is expected to stay at home.

The restrictions are the toughest seen in Wales since the spring, when the United Kingdom was badly hit in the first wave of infections to sweep Europe.

New restrictions also came into force Friday morning in northern England’s Greater Manchester region, following a protracted tussle between national and local leaders over financial support.

Regions in Italy, France, Spain, Germany and elsewhere are also introducing curfews in a bid to stem the spike in cases. And Slovakia has announced strict new limits on people’s movement and activities from Saturday.

Ireland on Thursday became the first country in Europe to reimpose a national lockdown.

The Irish measures, which prohibit social gatherings and require people to work from home unless they are providing an essential service, will remain in place for six weeks.

A sign outside the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin's city centre. Ireland has reimposed a national lockdown for six weeks in a bid to combat the rise in cases of the virus.

‘Common endeavor’

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford urged the country to pull together as he announced the two-week lockdown plan.

“A firebreak period is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer and much more damaging national lockdown,” Drakeford said Monday. “This is the moment to come together, to play our part in a common endeavor.”

Drakeford called the lockdown “sharp and deep” and said all non-essential businesses such as shops, restaurants and bars must shut down from Friday evening until November 9. “The only exceptions will be critical workers and jobs where working from home is not possible,” he said.

Drakeford also said businesses affected by the lockdown would receive the necessary support but called on the UK government to make more funds available.

A handwritten sign on a window of a shop announces its closure in Swansea city centre, south Wales, a day before the "fire-break" lockdown comes into force.

The new restrictions in the Greater Manchester region mean that its 2.8 million residents are not allowed to socialize indoors with anyone they do not live with, nor meet in private gardens. Outdoor social events in places like parks are limited to groups of six.

All pubs, bars, gyms, and casinos that don’t serve food must close. However, people can continue to visit restaurants and pubs that remain open because they serve “substantial meals,” as long as they only eat there with people they live with. In addition, Mancunians have been told to avoid all but the most essential travel outside of the area.

Slovakia curfew

Slovakia’s government announced its partial lockdown measures at a news conference Thursday.

Starting Saturday, people will not be allowed to leave their homes without a negative coronavirus test except in certain circumstances. These include going to have a test, going to work or school, shopping for food in their nearest shop, attending medical appointments, taking care of animals and attending a funeral.

People can leave their homes freely however between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. each day.

Schools will be closed for in-person classes from October 26 until November 27, except for nurseries, kindergartens and lower grade elementary schools, which take children up to roughly the age of nine.

Public transport will be limited between October 26 and November 15 to make it harder for the population to move about.

Meanwhile, the governor of the southwest Italian region of Campania, Vincenzo De Luca, urged the government Friday to implement a national lockdown as Italy faces rising infection rates.

“The current data on the infection makes any type of partial measure ineffective,” De Luca said.

De Luca called for everything to be shut down apart from essential services and for people’s movement between different regions and municipalities to be limited.

“In any case, Campania will move in this direction very soon,” he said. Campania encompasses the city of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, areas normally popular with tourists.

Night-time curfews

France’s night-time coronavirus curfew will be extended more widely in the country from Saturday, with 46 million French people affected, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday.

Castex said 38 French departments, or administrative areas, would be added to the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, bringing the number of departments under curfew to a total of 54 out of 101 departments. French Polynesia will also be under curfew, Castex said.

The measures are needed because “in France, and in Europe, the second wave is upon us,” Castex said, adding that the number of deaths would keep increasing.

France reported a new record for daily coronavirus infections with 41,622 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to numbers released by the French Health Agency on Thursday.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in France to 999,043, according to government statistics. According to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) data, France has recorded more than 1 million cases and more than 34,000 deaths.

People wearing protective face masks  wait for a tram on October 22, 2020 in a street of Saint-Etienne, central eastern France.

A night-time curfew will also come into force from Saturday in areas of Greece seeing the highest rates of infection and masks will become mandatory outdoors.

Big cities Athens and Thessaloniki are considered high-risk areas in the country’s four tier-system, along with more than a dozen other regions, including Zante and Heraklion.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who announced the new restrictions in a televised address to the nation Thursday, said Greece was in better shape than most European countries but warned that tough months lie ahead.

The aim of the 12.30 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is to limit outdoor parties and gatherings, with the greatest rise in cases seen among young people, Mitsotakis said.

Greece recorded an additional 882 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, hitting a fresh daily record. According to Greece’s national public health organization, Greece has recorded 28,216 cases and 549 deaths in total.

A health worker checks a coronavirus test in Kozani, Greece, on October 16, 2020.

‘Time for partying in nightclubs to stop’

Even Sweden, which did not go into a full lockdown in early spring during the first wave of the pandemic in Europe – putting an emphasis instead on personal responsibility – has announced new restrictions.

Nightclubs where dancing is permitted will be limited to 50 people from November 1, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said Thursday.

“It’s time for partying in nightclubs to stop,” said Lofven. “It is disrespectful to health care staff, who have worked hard, day and night, when they open a newspaper and see photos from packed nightclubs and dance floors.”

The tightening of nightclub restrictions, still lenient compared with many other European countries, comes as Sweden sees a spike in coronavirus infections.

The country reported 1,614 new cases in the past 24 hours. The daily record for new infections was set Tuesday with 3,180 new cases, according to JHU figures.

Venues that don’t allow for dancing but serve food and beverages to seated customers at a safe distance do not have to limit numbers.

Meanwhile, rules on sporting and other events will be relaxed from November 1 to allow up to 300 spectators where they can be seated at a safe distance. Currently, 50 spectators are allowed.

CNN’s Chris Liakos, Elinda Labropoulou, Vasco Cotovio, Ivana Kottasova, Valentina Di Donato, Maria Fleet, Barbara Wojazer and Gaëlle Fournier contributed to this report.