New virus restrictions in Europe; Merkel warns of hard days

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Medical staff takes a COVID-19 test at a coronavirus test center in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. The city exceeded the important warning level of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. More and more German cities become official high risk corona hotspots with travel restrictions within Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to come together like they did in the spring to slow the spread of the coronavirus as the country posted another daily record of new cases Saturday.

“Difficult months are ahead of us,” she said in her weekly video podcast. “How winter will be, how our Christmas will be, that will all be decided in these coming days and weeks, and it will be decided by our behavior.”

Meanwhile, new restrictions went into effect in several other European nations in an effort to staunch the resurgence of the pandemic.

In Paris and eight other French cities, restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other establishments were being forced to close no later than 9 p.m. to try to reduce contact among people. The country was deploying 12,000 extra police officers to enforce the new rules.

Many restaurant owners have bristled at the order. An earlier months-long lockdown devastated the sector.

“I have the right to question the government’s approach, I think it’s a catastrophic measure for the industry,” said Xavier Denamur, who owns Les Philosophes and several other bistros in Paris's chic Le Marais district, saying that if nothing else, the curfew should be 11 p.m.

“At least that would not destroy us,” he said. “There’s no evidence that this difference of a couple of hours will have any effect on the virus circulating.”

In Britain, a three-tier regional approach to battle the pandemic introduced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into effect, with each level bringing progressively tighter restrictions.