France announced a daily record for coronavirus infections, and Italy imposed the toughest restrictions on its population since ending its lockdown, as Europe’s second wave of the coronavirus pandemic accelerated.
Italy, struggling with an explosive rise in infections and approaching 20,000 confirmed cases a day, on Sunday announced the closure of all bars and restaurants at 6 p.m., the suspension of many sports and leisure activities, and a return to online lessons for high-school students.
“The objective is not to bring the contagion curve down to zero, but to bring it under control,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told a news conference.
He appealed to Italians to obey the new rules in the coming weeks so that daily life can return closer to normal as the December holiday season—a vital time for both family life and the economy—approaches. Mr. Conte acknowledged public frustration but said the new measures were the only alternative to a repeat lockdown that Italy’s economy can’t afford.
Confirmed infections in France reached 45,422 on Saturday, making it the worst-hit country in Europe’s second wave. Average daily cases in France have increased by nearly 50% in the past week alone. Although the recent death toll is much lower than this spring, nearly half of the country’s intensive-care beds are now occupied by Covid-19 patients, according to French health authorities.