Overnight curfews and new restrictive measures were announced in multiple regions across Europe as COVID-19-related hospital admissions and deaths continued to rise.
Greece, Italy and France were among the countries that this week introduced or extended nightly bans on people coming outdoors in an effort to stem the surge in cases.
A curfew was also in place in Belgium, where authoritiessaid the average daily number of people testing positive over the past week had exceeded 10,000, prompting fears of a strain on hospitals.
Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced an increase in intensive care unit beds and said some non-urgent operations would be delayed.
Belgium’s midnight-5am curfew comes with a closure for cafes, bars and restaurants and a ban on alcohol sales after 8pm.
In Italy, a nightly curfew between midnight and 5am begins on Saturday in the region of Lazio, which includes Rome, and will last for 30 days.
Similar measures are already in place in Lombardy, where cases are surging especially in Milan, and in Naples.
Italy confirmed a daily record of over 16,000 cases on Thursday for the first time in the pandemic.
Prime Minister Giuseepe Conte has avoided announcing another national lockdown but urged Italians to avoid “unnecessary” movements.
Greece‘s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said wearing a mask was now compulsory in all public places, whether indoors or outdoors.
He also announced a nightly curfew in large cities including Athens between 12.30am and 5am.
“The aim is to reduce general movement and evening gatherings, which favour the transmission of the virus,” Mitsotakis said in a televised address on Thursday.
“With a little less fun, for a short period of time, we will have better health for a long time.”
In France, a curfew imposed in eight major cities last week was extended to 38 other regions, meaning two-thirds of the population must stay indoors between 9pm and 6am.
On Thursday night public health authorities announced they had recorded 41,600 new virus cases in a single day, the highest since widespread testing began.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has now exceeded 1 million in both France and Spain.
As many as six million people in Britain have been affected by new coronavirus restrictions.
A “firebreak” lockdown due to take effect in Wales from Friday evening will see people told to stay at home for 17 days. All pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops will be closed.
Meanwhile many parts of England — including Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire — moved into the highest level of restrictions, which include a ban on households mixing together.
Scotland‘s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was expected to outline news restrictions in her country later on Friday.
Meanwhile Poland is limiting all public gatherings to five people and require older schoolchildren to attend class remotely.
Restaurants and bars across the country will close for a fortnight as virus cases reached a new daily record on Friday.