ANGELA Merkel has slapped Germany with a second coronavirus lockdown amid a record rise in cases.
The German leader has announced a month-long circuit breaker in the hope it will "save Christmas" for millions of families.
Mrs Merkel signed off on a second lockdown for all of November after an emergency meeting with state premiers from across Germany.
Germany was widely praised for keeping cases and deaths below those of its neighbours early in the pandemic but, like much of Europe, the country is now in the midst of a second wave.
It recorded a record 16,774 cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 481,013, while the death toll rose by 89 to 10,272.
Mrs Merkel admitted: "We are now at a point where, on average nationally, we no longer know where 75 per cent of infections come from."
Under the measures, due to come in on Monday morning, people will be restricted to meeting members of just one other household in public.
Bars, restaurants, gyms, and cultural venues will be ordered to close and hotels can only stay open for non-tourism related stays.
Schools and nurseries will be allowed to stay open as will shops so long as they impose hygiene measures and limit customer numbers.
The plan says families and friends "should be able to meet each other even under corona conditions during the Christmas season".
The new measures marked a "hard and bitter day" for Germany, Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, said, according to The Guardian.
During a speech in parliament on Thursday, Mrs Merkel said: "The winter will be hard – four long, hard months – but it will end."
She blasted coronavirus deniers and defended the circuit break lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
"We are in a dramatic situation at the start of the cold season. It affects us all, without exception," Mrs Merkel said.
She said the new restrictions to reduce social contact were "necessary and proportionate".
While being heckled by far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) lawmakers, Mrs Merkel added: "Lies and disinformation, conspiracy theories and hatred damage not only the democratic debate but also the fight against the virus."
In France, Emmanuel Macron ordered bars, restaurants, and secondary schools to shut as of midnight on Thursday.
The French President imposed almost five weeks of stricter measures from Friday as he warned France was being "overwhelmed" by a second wave of infections.
France's second lockdown will see bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses close and people banned from travelling to different regions.
Residents can only leave home for essential work, exercise, to go food shopping or for medical reasons, but schools and workplaces will remain open.
Mr Macron said people must use official passes to leave their homes, as they had to when March's lockdown was imposed.
It comes after 527 more deaths were recorded yesterday in France, the highest daily death toll since April, with 33,417 new confirmed cases in 24 hours.
During a TV address to the nation, Mr Macron said: "If we do not put a brutal brake on contamination today, our hospitals will quickly become overwhelmed.
"We will never let hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens die. These are not our values."
Europe is being ravaged by a second wave of the virus that experts are warning will be worse than the first.
Authorities in Belgium, which has the highest case rate in the EU, are eyeing a second national lockdown as early as this weekend.
Brussels boss Ursula von der Leyen admitted Christmas will be "different" but said "a lot depends on behaviour from each individual in the next few weeks".
The EU's top adviser on the pandemic also warned most of the continent will have to go back into some form of lockdown.
Professor Peter Piot said people had "relaxed too much" on social distancing measures like mask wearing and now "we're paying a high price".
He warned if current restrictions are eased too soon Europe may face "a third wave with maybe even more deaths".
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