Some European countries are reinstating a national lockdown - could the UK follow?

Covid cases and deaths continue to surge in Europe, forcing France and Germany to reinstate some form of national lockdown in an effort to bring infection rates back under control.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that European governments are “well behind” in the fight against Covid-19, with the continent becoming an epicentre for the disease.

However, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, Dr Michael Ryan, said that if tougher measures were imposed, it should be possible to stay ahead of transmission rates providing public health surveillance is in place.

What rules are being introduced?

From Friday 30 October, people in France will only be allowed to leave their home for essential work or medical reasons.

President Emmanuel Macron said that, under the new rules, people will need to fill in a form to justify leaving their house, as was required during the country’s initial lockdown back in March.

Social gatherings have also been banned, but public services and factories will remain open to keep the economy running.

Meanwhile, Germany is imposing a slightly softer national lockdown which will come into force on Monday 2 November.

The partial lockdown will remain in place until 30 November and will see bars, gyms and theatres forced to close, as well as restaurants, except for takeaway service. Social contacts will be limited to two households with a maximum of 10 people, and tourism will be halted, but schools and kindergartens will remain open.

Smaller businesses and the self employed are to be reimbursed with up to 75 per cent of their November 2019 takings.

What’s happening elsewhere?

Despite Covid cases increasing rapidly across Europe, not all countries are reinstating national lockdowns, instead opting to put preventative measures in place to help curb the spread.

Italy has already introduced new restrictions which will be in place for a month. All bars and restaurants across the country have to close by 6pm, but they can provide takeaways after this time.

Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas also have to close, and gatherings for weddings, baptisms and funerals are banned.

Spain began a nationwide curfew on 25 October after the government declared a new state of emergency, meaning people in all regions (with the exception of the Canary Islands) must stay at home between 11pm and 6am.

The Czech Republic, which currently has the worst infection rate on the continent, has also imposed a partial lockdown, while the Republic of Ireland went into a second national lockdown earlier this month for a six week period.

Will the UK follow?

Infection rates and Covid hospital admissions are rising rapidly across the UK, but the country has so far resisted reimposing another nationwide lockdown.

Both England and Scotland have instead put in place a tiered local lockdown system in an attempt to help bring infection rates under control in the worst affected areas. Wales and Northern Ireland currently have ‘firebreaker’ and ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns in place.

However, experts have warned that current restrictions are “not sufficient” enough, as infections are doubling approximately every nine days.

Government scientific adviser, Dr Mike Tildesley, has said more national restrictions are needed, with the current trajectory likely to put almost everywhere in England into Tier 2 before Christmas.

There have also been discussions of increasing the already tough Tier 3 restrictions to “Tier three-plus”, or Tier 4, if the R-rate of transmission doesn’t fall below 1 by mid-November.

Several parts of England are already subject to the highest level of restrictions, with Nottinghamshire the latest to enter Tier 3, along with Liverpool City Region, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire and Warrington.

The UK nations' devolved administrations have the right to set their own policies around Covid restrictions, meaning much of the country is subject to different rules and restrictions.