Emmanuel Macron imposed a second national lockdown in France last night, declaring that a sudden and “brutal brake” on virus transmission was needed. However, the French President acknowledged the threat of violence and riots exploding on French streets against the lockdown measures, saying that he would take “full responsibility for the reactions this the lockdown will cause”. There are growing fears that the number of violent anti-lockdown protests recently seen in Italy and Spain will follow in France.
Announcing the new French lockdown, Mr Macron warned that 400,000 people will die of coronavirus if France does nothing to control a second wave.
Channel 4 News Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Rugman remarked that Europe is “a continent being plunged backwards in time”.
He pointed to protests against the lockdown that had erupted in Berlin, as well as several major cities in Italy and Spain.
In Berlin, thousands took to the streets to protest about jobs in culture and entertainment that will be lost once Germany locks down from Monday.
Germany’s new four-week “lockdown lite” will see all bars and restaurants closed but schools and shops will stay open.
In Barcelona, the Spanish hospitality industry came out in force against overnight curfews, regional travel bans and a state of emergency that could last six months.
Last Sunday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a nationwide state of emergency that he hopes to extend for six months.
One upset restaurant owner in Barcelona told Channel 4: “This feels like ruin and death. We have debts to pay and families depending on us.”
On Tuesday, violence was reported in at least two major northern cities, Milan and Turin, as crowds protested against the severe restrictions enforced to tackle a surge in coronavirus cases.
Footage of the violence showed protesters smash windows, set off smoke bombs and hurl objects at the police.
Last night, the violence continued for the fourth night in a row as demonstrators again clashed with police in Rome as they took to the streets to protests against the restrictions.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced curfews in Rome, Naples and Milan yesterday along with curfews on restaurants and bars and closures of gyms, pools and theatres, in a desperate bid to avoid a second full lockdown.