London will join other big cities in Europe, including Paris and Berlin, in tightening restrictions to stem a rapidly rising second wave of coronavirus cases in Europe.
A ban on people mixing indoors in the British capital will begin after midnight on Friday as London moves up into tier 2 — “high alert” level — in England’s new three-level virus restriction system, the care minister, Helen Whately, told London lawmakers in a call on Thursday. People will also be discouraged from using public transportation. The increased measures will also apply to the city of York, in northern England, as well as parts of central and southeastern England.
Rapidly increasing caseloads across Europe are raising fears of another surge as winter approaches and people around the world chafe under pandemic restrictions that impede their daily lives — and their livelihoods.
The weekly number of new Covid-19 cases in Europe is now at its highest point since the start of the pandemic, a top official with the World Health Organization said on Thursday. The number of confirmed cases in Europe rose by a million to seven million in just 10 days, Hans Kluge, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Europe, told reporters, and the number of daily deaths had passed 1,000 for the first time.
“Does it mean we are back to mid-March? No, we are not,” Dr. Kluge said. “Although we record two to three times more cases compared to the April peak, we still observe five times less deaths.”
Dr. Kluge recommended tighter rules on social gatherings, which European officials have already been devising as part of targeted restrictions that are meant to avoid the type of blanket lockdowns that paralyzed economic activity in the spring.
On Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron of France announced that, starting on Saturday, the authorities would impose a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the Paris region and around eight other major cities. The curfews will run for at least four weeks.
The measure is part of a renewed state of emergency that allows the national government to restrict public gatherings and movement countrywide. It was first declared in the spring but had ended in July.
“We need this — and if we don’t want to take harsher measures in 15 days, or three weeks, or one month, we have to do it and comply with it,” Mr. Macron said.
The measure is to be applied in the regions of Paris, Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, St.-Etienne and Toulouse, affecting roughly 18 million residents.
In London on Thursday, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, addressed the coming tightening of restrictions in the city: “We’re at a critical moment in our fight against COVID-19 in London,” he said. “Nobody wants to see more restrictions but it is deemed necessary in order to protect Londoners.”
In Germany on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state governors agreed to nationwide restrictions on social gatherings and domestic travel, in response to a…