In Germany, it is being termed a “lockdown light” for November while in France a four-week lockdown is expected but less severe than in the spring.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to decide with state leaders whether to shut bars, leisure centres and hotels to halt the rise in infections.
President Emmanuel Macron will give details of French measures later.
EU special adviser Prof Peter Piot has warned that some 1,000 Europeans are now dying every day from the virus.
Night curfews are in force in several countries. However, one French minister has complained that curfews affecting some 46 million people have failed to halt social interactions.
“[The curfew] has simply shifted them – instead of getting together at 21:00, people meet up at six,” the unnamed minister was quoted as saying.
The German government is keen to enable families and friends to meet at Christmas, but daily infections have soared to a new high of 14,964 and 85 more deaths.
Ireland imposed tight measures last week with the aim of reopening before Christmas and Italy shut cinemas and gyms this week in an attempt to “save Christmas”. Now the UK government is under pressure to act too.
What measures are expected?
A broad but limited German lockdown is now planned from Monday 2 November, reports say. An earlier draft plan had suggested a start two days later. Under the unconfirmed proposal:
- Schools would remain open
- Social contacts would be limited to two households and tourism would be halted
- Cinemas, theatres, leisure centres would be shut
- Bars would close and restaurants would be limited to takeaways
- Tattoo and massage parlours would shut but hairdressers would be allowed to stay open
- Companies badly hit by the lockdown could be reimbursed with up to 75% of their November 2019 takings
- Mrs Merkel and the state premiers would then reconvene on 11 November to reassess the situation
In France, the defence council and cabinet were deciding the extent of the planned four-week lockdown on Wednesday, but reports suggest schools will stay open and online study will be encouraged for older children and universities.
The changes could kick in from Thursday night.
France recorded 523 deaths on Tuesday, including 235 in residential homes, and the hospital federation has appealed for as broad a lockdown as possible.
“The country is really on the verge of having its health system becoming deluged,” it said, warning of significant excess mortality in the most vulnerable groups.