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Police conduct coronavirus regulations checks in Hamburg, Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced new measures Thursday, as the country reported a record number of new cases. Photo: Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Germany on Thursday became the latest European country to announce new restrictions this week amid record coronavirus case numbers. But governments are seeking to avoid a second round of nationwide lockdowns.

Why it matters: Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus have devastated economies around the world.

The big picture: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday new measures would include a curfew for restaurants and bars in coronavirus hot spots and a limit on gatherings, after the country reported a record 6,638 new infections, per DW.

  • "I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic," she aid. "We are already in a phase of exponential growth, the daily numbers show that."
  • Merkel said as cases began rising again last month "we all want to avoid a second national shutdown and we can do that," per Reuters.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced in a televised address Wednesday a curfew from 9pm to 6am would be imposed on Paris and its surrounding regions, and in the cities of Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse, Montpellier, Grenoble, Rouen and Saint-Étienne.

  • "We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," Macron said, confirming that the curfew that starts Saturday would remain in place for at least four weeks.
  • "We are going to have to deal with this virus until at least the summer of 2021."

In the U.K., the government introduced a three-tier alert system for towns and cities this week — with Liverpool the first to face the toughest restrictions whereby measures include the closure of bars that don't serve food.

Russia registered a record 14,231 new cases Wednesday, but officials were focusing on touting a coronavirus vaccine developed by the country, the New York Times reports.

Italy on Wednesday surpassed its record number of cases with 7,332 new infections.

  • Health officials announced Tuesday new measures including mandatory seating in restaurants and bars after 9pm, a mandatory midnight closing time for venues and a ban on outdoor and indoor private parties, Forbes notes.

In Spain, Authorities in Catalonia ordered restaurants and bars that don't offer takeaways to shut for 15 days from Thursday, per AFP.

  • Madrid officials on Tuesday expanded restrictions that have seen nightclubs clubs close and regional authorities in Navarre, Catalonia and Andalusia announced new measures including restaurants and bars operating at reduced capacity, El País reports.

The Netherlands government imposed a "partial lockdown" that began at 10pm Wednesday local time, forcing cafes, bars and restaurants to shut for four weeks, according to DutchNews.nl.

Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced Wednesday gatherings would be limited to five people and declared a "state of calamity," as the country confirmed more than 2,000 cases in a single day for the first time, Anadolou Agency notes.

The Czech government on Wednesday announced household guests must be limited to three people, alcohol could not be sold after 8pm and there would be a "wider mandatory use of face masks," AFP reports.

  • On Thursday, the country's health ministry confirmed a record 9,544 new cases, per the Guardian.

Go deeper

Updated 17 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court grants stay for indoor mask mandate — Neil Young demands Spotify take down music over vaccine misinformation — Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
Jan 22, 2021 - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Fauci: Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives

President Biden's chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci acknowledged on CNN's "New Day" Friday that the Trump administration's resistance to following the science on coronavirus policy "very likely" cost lives.

Why it matters: Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, clashed on numerous occasions with former President Trump after contradicting him on scientific issues like the efficacy of masks and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in combating COVID-19.