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Oct. 30, 2020, 7:30 a.m. EDT

France and Germany order lockdowns — but is France too late and facing another economic shock?

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By Pierre Briançon

The governments of Europe’s two largest economies on Wednesday ordered their populations into strict one-month lockdowns, including the closures of all bars and restaurants, in a desperate attempt to fight the severe spike of COVID-19 that threatens to engulf their national health systems.

The outlook: France is one of Europe’s worst-hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic, and Germany the country that best dealt with it. The fact that parallel measures are announced on the same day will reinforce the criticism that Macron is acting too late, in contrast to Merkel taking radical measures much earlier in the pandemic cycle.

Macron and his prime minister Jean Castex resisted in the last two months the advice of the government’s top health experts, who argued that tougher measures should have come much earlier in order to prevent the worst of the pandemic’s second wave. As the French parliament has just debated the details of a €100 billion stimulus plan to counter the effects of the initial COVID-19 outbreak, the government now faces another economic shock — and potentially an even harder one, if Macron’s prediction proves true.

Read: Second COVID wave brings the European economic recovery to an end

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