Covid-19 lockdown returns in Europe while India unlocks further 

2 weeks ago 4

After showing signs of easing out, Covid-19 pandemic is making a strong comeback across Europe. Country after country is again resorting to lockdown hoping to contain further spread of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

In the latest development, France has imposed fresh restrictions shutting down all bars in Paris from tomorrow (October 6) for two weeks. In Marseille - another big city of France, bars and restaurants had been last week ordered to shut completely for 15 days.

Gatherings are restricted across France to 10 people, and organising parties at hired places -- including wedding receptions - are banned. Wearing a facial mask or other face covering has been made mandatory while going outside home.

Germany has extended the ban on social gatherings such as concerts, sporting events and public festivals till the end of this year. News rules for inbound travellers have been put in place. From October 1, travellers from high-risk countries are to self-isolate for 14 days. Not wearing a face mask invites a fine of 50 euros in Germany.

In Spain, one of the worst-affected countries due to Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions have been re-imposed. The government has restricted even indoor social gatherings to a maximum of six persons. Public places such as shops and bars are directed to keep the number of people limited. Everybody above the age of six is required to wear a face mask while going outside.

Italy, another badly affected country due to Covid-19, nightclubs and dance bars have been closed. People going outside are required to wear face masks at all public places where social distancing is not possible. It is obligatory to wear face masks for kids, aged above 6, going to schools.

Fresh restrictions were imposed even in the Netherlands, where the authorities on September 29 ordered that there cannot be any spectator at a sporting event. They also restricted the social gatherings at home to three persons. Wearing a mask has been compulsory in big cities and public places such as bars and restaurants.

Denmark, which had taken a lead in Europe in opening its schools in April this year, re-imposed restrictions after cases rose sharply in August. Wearing a face mask is compulsory on public transport and late-night gatherings have been banned.

Similar restrictions have been re-enforced in many other European countries including Belgium, Portugal and Greece. Europe has witnessed a second wave of Covid-19 in the past few weeks putting a question mark on the strategy, what many experts said was a hurried unlock process.

In contrast, India imposed the strictest lockdown that crippled its economy but ended up only delaying the spread of Covid-19. Today, India has the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases after the US.

India has been reporting highest number of Covid-19 cases daily for several weeks. But the silver lining for India is that it also has recorded the highest number of recoveries.

Europe, on the other hand, is reporting cases in its second wave not very far from India's tally. On Saturday, India reported over 75,000 Covid-19 cases, European tally was only 10,000 less. On Sunday too, Europe reported nearly 60,000 fresh cases. India's figure was below 75,000.

Given that the world is still in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic it is difficult to declare which approach is the correct one in tackling the deadly virus. Europe returned to almost normalcy when the Covid-19 figures dropped a couple of months back, but is back again with restrictions. While India opted for very gradual unlock process, and has incidentally seen lower rate of infection growth.

Currently, India is in Unlock 5.0 phase under which the cinemas, theatres, multiplexes, entertainment parks and swimming pools used for the training of sportspersons can open from October 15 if they are located outside the containment zones.

While European countries hurried towards opening of the schools, India's Unlock 5.0 allows states and Union Territories to open schools depending on local Covid-19 situation.

Social gatherings are now allowed without many restrictions in India if they are held outdoors. If held indoors, there can be only a maximum of 200 people but never exceeding half the capacity of the venue. In all cases, wearing masks, following social distancing protocol, use of sanitisers and provision of thermal scanning is mandatory.

Further, India is still allowing international flight operations in the air bubbles only. India has air bubbles with about a dozen countries. Though their movement is not banned but people with comorbidities, senior citizens aged 65 and above, pregnant women, and children below 10 are advised not to go outside.

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