Thanks in part to an outbreak at a meat processing plant in Germany, and outbreaks connected to beachside parties in places like Lisbon, lockdown conditions were imposed for the first time in weeks in parts of Germany and Portugal, while the WHO warned that Europe saw a jump in new cases last week for the first time in weeks, a dangerous sign considering what's happening in the US and Brazil.
But while the American press slams Florida Gov Ron DeSantis as beaches in his hard-hit state have reopened amid a surge in cases, parties, often illicit street parties and raves, have become a serious threat in Europe as it becomes clear that the virus spreads the most quickly at relatively intimate parties, like a surprise birthday party in Texas that led to 18 of the more than 70 attendees getting infected.
"Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months," Hans Kluge, the regional director for Europe, told reporters on Thursday. He did not identify any of the countries, but added that the situation was particularly acute in 11 countries.
According to the Guardian, illicit raves in France and Germany have created problems for local police.
As countries crack down on illicit parties, the task has been largely left to police. This week saw police sporadically clash with the thousands who thronged to Paris’s Canal Saint-Martin and Marais district for the annual Fête de la Musique, while in Berlin more than 100 officers broke up a demonstration that turned into a spontaneous, 3,000-person party earlier this month. In Berlin, police have also warned of a rise in illicit raves in the city’s parks.
Even France saw a 12% jump in daily reported cases over the last week, while Germany saw a stunning 37% jump, thanks largely to the outbreak at the state-run abattoir.
Gatherings have taken place from England to Spain - anywhere warm weather has arrived, which by now is pretty much all of Europe.
Warmer weather and the relaxing of restrictions also fuelled gatherings in England, where police are grappling with a proliferation of parties, hastily organised on social media and held in motorway underpasses, parks and industrial estates. Earlier this month, two illegal raves in Greater Manchester attracted some 6,000 people.In hard-hit Spain, which on Wednesday reported its highest number of cases in three weeks, health officials have long warned about the risks of social gatherings.
"An outbreak brought on by a small, innocent party...just one outbreak could be the start of a new, nationwide epidemic,” Fernando Simón, the health official heading the country’s response to the virus, said in late May after a cluster of cases in the country’s north-east was linked to an illicit birthday party in which four of the 20 or so attendees tested positive.
Even Spanish royalty has been caught attending some of these illicit parties.
Days later another illegal party made headlines around the world and saw Spain slap a €10,400 (£9,400) fine on Belgium’s Prince Joachim after the royal breached the country’s quarantine rules to attend a party in southern Spain. He later tested positive for the virus.
It just goes to show: Europe likes to point fingers, but their citizens, who have been faced with typically more restrictive lockdowns, are so eager for contact that they're simply defying the government as enforcement intensity lifts.