Countries around the world are reimposing lockdowns and implementing new restrictions at their borders in an effort to curb a resurgence of coronavirus.
Stricter health checks have come into effect at Greece’s border with Bulgaria following an increase in tourism-related Covid-19 cases.
Starting on Wednesday, all incoming travellers crossing the border point are required to carry negative coronavirus test results issued in the previous 72 hours and translated into English.
The new rules have led to a drop in arrivals compared to recent days.
Residents of Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, were warned on Wednesday to comply with lockdown regulations or face tougher restrictions.
Melbourne’s five million people and part of the city’s semi-rural surroundings are a week into a new, six-week lockdown to contain a new outbreak there.
“The time for warnings, the time for cutting people slack is over,” Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“Where we are is in a very serious and deadly position.”
The developments come with more than 13 million cases of coronavirus cases confirmed worldwide, and with more than 578,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The actual numbers are thought to be far higher due to reasons including limited testing.
In Serbia, which has been hit hard by a spike in infections and anti-government protests, a government crisis team expanded a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people from Belgrade to encompass the entire country.
Masks were also made mandatory in public spaces where there is no opportunity for 1.5 metes of distancing, such as in lines to enter shops and bus stations.
Renewed restrictions took effect in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with public gatherings limited to four people, restaurants restricted to takeaways after 6pm and a one-week closure for gyms, karaoke bars and selected other businesses.
Masks are mandatory on public transport for the first time, with the non-compliant being fined.
After a surge in daily infections beginning last month, Israel moved last week to reimpose restrictions, closing events spaces, live show venues, bars and clubs.
It has imposed lockdowns on areas with high infection rates, which in some cases sparked protests from residents.
Officials have warned if case numbers do not come down in the coming days, Israel will have no choice but to lock down the entire country again, as it did in the spring.
“I don’t see what other tools we have aside from a lockdown,” Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein told the Israeli news site Ynet.
“Unless there is a miracle.”
South Africa is already showing signs of being overwhelmed by the pandemic – an ominous outlook for the rest of the continent of 1.3 billion people.
A ban on alcohol sales and a night curfew have been reimposed this week to reduce the volume of trauma patients to hospitals that are struggling to cope with an influx of Covid-19 patients.
In Catalonia, Spain, 160,000 residents in and around the city of Lleida have been forbidden to leave their homes unless it is properly justified.
The area is closed off, with police checkpoints outside every municipality. Bars and restaurants are only open for takeaways or delivery.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said on Wednesday that the spread of the infections in the Japanese capital has escalated to levels tantamount to “issuing an alarm” and requested residents and business owners to step up their preventive measures, while urging the government to legalize penalties for violators.
But even as new restrictions are imposed, steps were being taken to help restore a sense of normality.
On Tuesday night, Belarus Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko announced reopening the border with Russia and resuming the transport connection between the two countries “in the coming days”.
From Wednesday, travellers arriving in Russia had to either provide coronavirus test results at the border or take a virus test within three days of arriving to the country.
Those measures replace a mandatory two-week self-isolation for those arriving to Russia.