Here we go again! ‘Cracks in EU response’ to coronavirus second wave expose bloc’s failure

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Updating Sky News viewers on Friday, Europe Correspondent Adam Parsons warned that as different EU member states have started to impose new lockdown restrictions to fight a second coronavirus wave, “cracks” in the unity of the Brussels bloc were once again coming to the surface. He said: “These circumstances are not nearly as big as the figures we were seeing back in February and March.

“Certainly not like northern Italy. But they are worrying plenty across Europe.

“And once again, I think we are seeing cracks in the unity of the European Union response.

“Different quarantine regulations, different social distancing rules across Europe.

“I think the EU as a whole hoped that it would get more breathing space and it’s now nervously looking at some of these rises and asking can they be managed by local restrictions, by local lockdowns?

“Or are we, and nobody wants this, heading back to a question where a full national lockdown may be implemented in some or potentially all countries across a huge chunk of the EU?”

The comments come as the number of coronavirus cases is rising again across Europe, sparking fears of a second wave across the bloc.

France gave local governments the power on Friday to make the wearing of face masks compulsory in public, and a mandate was imposed in the northern city of Lille, as the country fights a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

The seven-day average of new coronavirus infections in France has moved above 1,000 per day for the first time since the first half of May, when France began lifting a nationwide lockdown. Officials hope local measures can prevent a second wave of infections without disruptive nationwide action.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Twitter that the decision to impose a mask mandate “can be taken locally, depending on the situation of the epidemic in each region”.

The government official responsible for Lille announced that wearing face masks would become compulsory from Monday in pedestrian areas and parks in the city, which lies near Belgium.

Germany will force people returning from three Spanish regions, including Catalonia – home to Barcelona – to go into quarantine or take a coronavirus test, in the latest blow to Europe’s travel industry after months of lockdown.

With virus numbers ticking up in Germany, fears have grown that tourists returning from destinations experiencing a surge in new cases, like Spain, could sow the seeds of a second wave.

Germany reported 870 more confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number to 208,698 while 9,141 deaths have been recorded.

The Robert Koch Institute put Catalonia, Aragon, and Navarre in northern Spain on its list of places designated high-risk for coronavirus on Friday.

People returning from high-risk areas must go into quarantine for two weeks unless they can present a negative coronavirus test not older than 48 hours or are willing to take a test at an airport.

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From next week, Germany plans to make coronavirus tests mandatory at airports for all returning holidaymakers from high-risk areas in order to slow the spread of infections.

The decision comes after Britain reimposed a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving from Spain and could deal a further blow to Spain’s economy, which depends on tourism for 12.3 percent of its economic output.

Britain imposed tougher lockdowns across swathes of northern England after a rise in the rate of coronavirus transmissions, raising concerns that a second wave could sow yet more turmoil.

And Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson put a hold on the further easing of lockdown measures for at least two more weeks. 

Last week, Norway said it would re-impose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain, while France advised people not to travel to Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia.

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