Germany will impose the strictest lockdown measures since the peak of the global coronavirus pandemic on Europe's biggest economy next week as new infections continue to rage across the Continent.
Chancellor Angela Merkel outlined the new restrictions Wednesday, which are set to take effect from Monday, Nov. 2, during a briefing with reporters in Berlin after the country's disease control agency said new infections hit a record 14,964 yesterday, taking the nationwide total to just under 450,000.
Merkel said the four-week lockdown will be reviewed in two week's time and will include the closure of bars, restaurants and public events. Hotels will be open only for essential, non-tourist use. Movie theaters will also remain closed, the chancellor said, although schools and shops around the country are expected to remain open.
"We have to act, and we have to act now ... to avoid a national health emergency," Merkel told reporters in Berlin.
France is reported to be mulling a national lockdown that could last as long as four weeks amid a torrid rise in new infections that has torn through Europe's major economies over the past three weeks.
U.S. stocks extended declines on the lockdown announcement, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 875 points, or 3.2%, in early afternoon trading while the broader S&P 500 was 108 points lower. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite index fell 390 points.
European stocks fell to a five-month low Wednesday, while benchmark 10-year German bund yields tumbled to a March low of -0.64% as investors fled from risk markets amid the region's surge in infection rates, which topped 230,000 on Monday alone to take the continental total past 8.54 million.
Germany's DAX performance index fell just more than 4% on the session to close at 11,560.61 points, extending its weekly decline past 8%.