Violent protests erupt across Europe as leaders impose tough lockdown measures

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Hundreds of furious protesters took to the streets in cities the length and breadth of Italy to vent their anger at the latest round of restrictions, which include early closing for bars and restaurants. Demonstrations in some cities spilled over into chaos as violence erupted.

We are living in an extreme situation

Pedro Sanchez

At least 12 people were arrested after protesters and riot police clashed in the centre of Rome when flares were set off.

In Milan, youths hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with volleys of tear gas while in nearby Turin, luxury shops had their windows smashed and some were ransacked.

Bottles were thrown at police in Naples after thousands of people marched in an otherwise peaceful demonstration.

In Spain, furious protesters formed barricades and lit fires on the streets of Barcelona after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a new state of emergency which includes local night-time curfews and a travel ban between regions.

Mr Sanchez said: “We are living in an extreme situation. It is the most serious health crisis in the last century.”

Berlin has seen rallies by anti-vaccination activists, conspiracy theorists and the political far right but also entertainment industry workers and people employed by other sectors hit hard by the pandemic who are calling on Angela Merkel for more government support.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told a virtual German-French economic conference in Berlin: “We are dealing with exponential growth.

“In Germany the number of new infections is rising between 70 and 75 percent compared to the week before.”

The US, Russia, France, Sweden, Poland and other countries have registered record numbers of infections in recent days as autumn turns to winter in the Northern Hemisphere and people socialise indoors where the risk of infection is higher.

So far, more than 43 million cases and more than 1.1 million deaths have been recorded worldwide from the virus, which was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year.

Governments across Europe have been under fire for a lack of coordination and for failing to use a lull in cases over the summer to bolster defences, leaving hospitals unprepared.

Leaders are facing an increasingly difficult task holding the second coronavirus wave at bay while trying to keep their battered economies afloat and pinning their hopes on as-yet unproven vaccines.

A vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca has been found to produces an immune response in both old and young adults, raising hopes of a path out of the gloom.

But only a share of the EU population can be inoculated before 2022, should a vaccine become available, EU officials said in an internal meeting.

The warning comes in spite of the fact that the 27-nation bloc, with a population of 450 million, has secured more than a billion doses of potential vaccines from three drug firms.

Ms Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown today.

In a televised address to the nation, Mr Macron said: “The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated.

“Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.”

“We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.”

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Under the new French measures which come into force on Friday, people will be required to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or exercise for up to one hour a day.

They will be permitted to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home.

Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theatres throughout November under measures agreed between Ms Merkel and heads of regional governments.

The German leader said: “We need to take action now.

“Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”

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