In the Spanish region of Catalonia, where cases have risen 40 percent in the past week, the authorities closed bars and restaurants for 15 days, except for takeout food. Shops were told to limit their traffic to 30 percent of capacity.
“We are in an extremely complicated situation,” the acting regional leader of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, said on Twitter.
In the Navarre region in northern Spain, which has in recent days superseded Madrid as the area with the country’s highest official infection rate, new restrictions came into force on Tuesday that included closing playgrounds and outdoors sports areas, as well forcing restaurants to close at 10 p.m.
In the Netherlands, where the number of cases almost doubled this week to 44,000, the government announced a limited lockdown. After 10 p.m. on Wednesday, all bars and restaurants will be closed for at least four weeks. Gatherings will be limited to 30 people, while most sports events will be halted.
In an about-face, Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued “strong advice” for people to wear masks inside public places. The Dutch authorities had long said that masks provided a false sense of security, emphasizing other forms of social distancing. Mr. Rutte said his government would seek to make them legally obligatory.
The aversion to masks, experts say, could help explain why the Netherlands is suffering such a serious spike, despite being wealthy and well-organized, with one of the best health care systems in the world. It also has a lack of testing capacity, which has prompted the Dutch to consider hiring labs in Abu Dhabi.
“Despite spending large amounts of money, they couldn’t get these things done,” said Sheila Sitalsing, a columnist for the newspaper De Volkskrant. “The problem is with our management, although of course also many ordinary people have ignored obvious health rules.”