Europe passed the milestone of 250,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday making it the second worst-hit region after Latin America and the Caribbean, where deaths have surpassed 350,000.
European countries have increased restrictions on daily life to combat surging infections, with a 44% increase in cases this week.
A curfew for millions of people came into effect in France this weekend and Switzerland requires all citizens to wear masks in public indoor areas.
The death toll in Europe makes it the second-hit in the region after Latin America and the Caribbean, where deaths have surpassed 350,000.
Britain remains the worst-affected country in Europe in terms of deaths, accounting for nearly a fifth of deaths on the continent.
They have continued to battle the virus, with local officials resisting the ministers’ attempts to impose restrictions by region.
France counted nearly 30,000 new cases Sunday, close to Saturday’s record 32,427. About 1,900 COVID-19 patients are currently occupying intensive care unit beds, out of a total capacity of 5,800 in France.
The government has imposed a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for at least one month in nine cities including Paris, affecting 20 million people.
Those who violate the curfew will be fined 135 euros ($ 158) unless they can prove they have a valid reason to leave.
“I returned from the hospital … where my daughter was operated on,” one man told a group of police officers, showing them a one-page document as evidence.
The measures fall short of blanket restrictions imposed in many countries at the start of the year – but raise fears of severe new restrictions across the continent.
Italy is the first country in Europe to have been hit hard by COVID-19 and has the second-highest death toll in the region after Britain, with 36,543 deaths since the outbreak flared in February, according to official figures.
The country registered 11,705 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the health ministry said, up from a previous record 10,925 posted a day earlier, as the government prepared new measures to combat a second wave of the disease.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced new measures aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, moving it to vulnerable populations and putting new pressure on hospitals.
The restrictions announced Sunday put an end to curfews like those imposed in Paris and other major French cities. But Italian mayors can close public squares and other gathering places after 9 p.m., only allowing access to reach homes or businesses.
The restaurant and bar are limited to table service only after 6pm, three hours earlier than the previous allowed action, but can maintain the current midnight closing time.
Local festivals have been banned. The public gym and pool may remain open – but Conte said they would be closed within a week if they didn’t do a better job of keeping up with the restrictions.
Rome clashed with local authorities over schools, refusing to budge to allow for more distance learning. But there is an allowance for secondary schools to open longer, and to hold afternoon shifts, to reduce pressure on local transport.
COVID-19-related deaths on Sunday rose to 69, up from 47 the previous day, the ministry said – far less than at the peak of the pandemic in Italy in March and April when daily deaths peaked at more than 900.
The number of intensive care cases hit 750 on Sunday from 705 on Saturday after hitting a low of around 40 in the second half of July.
Stricter measures have been put in place in some of the worst-affected areas, including Campania around Naples, which has closed schools for two weeks.
The Swiss government on Sunday said it would impose the wearing of masks in all indoor public spaces starting Monday and ban gatherings of more than 15 people, among other restrictions. Hundreds of people protested against the new action outside the government’s Federal Palace in Bern.