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With COVID case rates in Europe rising, some countries are bringing back restrictions

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

With coronavirus infections rising across Europe, the World Health Organization says a fifth wave of the pandemic is already sweeping the continent - a fifth wave. Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark are looking at possible new lockdowns. France, with some of the toughest vaccine restrictions, is faring better so far, but President Emmanuel Macron warned this week the signs of a coming surge are there. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley sends this report from Paris.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Austria is just days away from placing millions of people who are not fully vaccinated on lockdown as daily infections reach a record high. Next door, Germany registered 50,000 new cases on Thursday - a new daily record. Olaf Scholz, Angela Merkel's likely successor, said the country has to pull together to get through the winter.

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OLAF SCHOLZ: (Non-English language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: Scholz said people should be vaccinated, recovered or have negative tests to go to their workplaces, and he called for stricter rules to enter venues like restaurants and cinemas. France has had such restrictions in place since July. You have to show a vaccine passport to do nearly everything. The requirement, which the French parliament just extended for another year, has caused some protests but has also pushed more people to vaccinate so they can live normally.

Most people NPR talked to strolling along the Seine River Thursday said the restrictions are a good thing. Kaura Reyes is an American studying in Paris.

KAURA REYES: I think it's good to regulate and to have some restrictions on people and make them get the vaccine so we're all more safe.

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PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Non-English language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: Speaking Tuesday, Macron urged the remaining 6 million unvaccinated French to get the jab, but he said the vaccine alone could not defeat the virus until the whole world has access to it. So starting Monday, Macron said masks will once again be mandatory in French schools, and people over 65 must now get a booster shot if they want to keep their vaccine pass valid.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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