What are the lockdown rules in France, Italy and the rest of Europe?

Germany joins Belgium and France in the list of European countries to introduce second lockdown

Alessio Perrone
Monday 02 November 2020 12:49
<p>The remains of the last party are seen on the table of a closed cafe at Berlin's Hackescher Markt</p>

The remains of the last party are seen on the table of a closed cafe at Berlin's Hackescher Markt

People in Germany woke up on Monday to the first day of a four-week lockdown to last until 30 November.

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

Germany joined Belgium and France in the list of European countries that have declared second lockdowns. Spain and Italy, among others, have also introduced new restrictions. 

Meanwhile in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday plans to introduce a four-week lockdown to begin this Thursday after scientific advisers warned that the rise in infection rates risked overwhelming hospitals.

Here are the restrictions currently in force in each country:


On Thursday 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.

People are banned from travelling between regions and have to remain within 1km from their homes and carry a form when they are outside.

Unlike the spring lockdown, schools will stay open and visits to care home remain allowed – but all non-essential businesses, including cafes and bars, will close.

Starting Tuesday, France will also introduce a ban on the sale of ‘non-essential’ items in supermarkets, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on TF1 television on Sunday.

People walk past a poster featuring a nurse on a street in Rennes, western France


A four-week partial shutdown took effect on Monday 2 November in Germany.

The new restrictions are milder than the ones Germany imposed in the spring: schools, kindergartens, non-essential shops, churches and hairdressers will be able to remain open.

But theatres, cinemas, gyms and other leisure facilities will close at least until 30 November, while bars and restaurants will only be able to remain open for takeaways.

Like in France, nurseries will stay open and visitors will be allowed in care homes.

No more than 10 people, from maximum households, will be allowed to convene at one time.

On Saturday, the national disease control centre reported the highest number of infections in one day - 19,059 - since the pandemic began.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors are to review the situation after two weeks.


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.

Gyms, theatres, cinemas, ski slopes and swimming polls have been closed since last Sunday for at least one month, while bars and restaurants have to close at 6pm – well before dinner time for locals – and can only sell takeaways after that time.

Museums, places of worship and schools remain open, although the government said that 75% of high school students must have remote classes.

Many Italian regions have introduced a curfew between 11pm and 5am to prevent gatherings. Masks are compulsory everywhere – both indoors and outdoors – but in private homes.

Hospitals and experts have long warned that new restrictions are needed to curb the rise of infections and stave off a second lockdown and that current measures will only have minimal impact.

“The epidemic has already been out of control for more than three weeks in various parts of the country,” Nino Cartabellotta, one of Italy’s most prominent health researchers. “Together with the hesitation of mayors and regional governors to introduce local lockdown, [this] is pushing Italy towards a total shutdown.”

Italian restaurant and bar workers gather in Piazza del Popolo to protest against the government's social distancing rules


Belgium has introduced a partial lockdown this weekend, restricting travel and shopping and making remote working mandatory wherever possible.

For the next six weeks, family contact is reduced to only one person outside of the household. People are still allowed to travel to their hotel or secondary residence, but schools are technically open, but a one-week vacation that started on Friday will be extended for another week.

Non-essential shops requiring close contact, such as hairdressers, have been closed, as have gyms, swimming pools and other leisure facilities.

On Friday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control ranked Belgium as the worst affected nation in the European Union, with 1,600 cases per 100,000 people. Hotspots like Spain and Italy have less than a third of that total, highlighting how acute the country’s crisis has become.

“It is now in our hands, it is in your hands,” said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, as he announced the measures. “These really are the last-chance measures and it is up to all of us to make sure that these measures produce a result.”


The Spanish government declared the state of emergency last weekend, introducing a curfew between 11pm and 6 am in all regions except the Canary Islands.

People are allowed to leave their homes to go to work, care for someone and buy medicines.

Only gatherings of fewer than six people who do not live together are allowed.

Additional reporting by AP

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