Coronavirus test in France
Coronavirus test in FranceReuters

France will go back into a nationwide lockdown starting this week to try to contain the COVID-19 epidemic that is again threatening to spiral out of control, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an address to the nation on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The new measures he announced, which come into force on Friday and will last until December 1, will mean people have to stay in their homes except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention, or use their daily one-hour allocation of exercise.

Anyone leaving their home will have to carry a special document justifying being outside, which can be checked by police, Macron said.

Restaurants, cafes and shops not selling essential goods will have to close down for at least the next two weeks, he added.

People will still be allowed to go to work if their employer deems it impossible for them to do the job from home, and - in a departure from the previous lockdown in March - schools will remain open, Macron said in his address.

"The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated. We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first," he warned.

"I've decided that we need to return to the lockdown which halted the virus," Macron added.

"I have faith in us, in you, faith in our ability to overcome this challenge... We will get over this if we are united, and we are united," continued the French President.

The new measures echo the eight-week lockdown that France enforced in the spring, when hospitalizations and deaths caused by the COVID-19 epidemic reached a peak.

The lockdown was effective at containing the epidemic, but the virus started spreading again after relaxing rules starting May 11.

France on Tuesday reported 523 new deaths from coronavirus over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April.

Two weeks ago, Macron ordered a nighttime curfew for Paris and eight other cities to contain the spread of COVID-19 after daily new infection rates reached alarming record levels.

Many countries in Europe have declared new emergency measures in recent weeks, in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus, following record numbers of new cases of the virus.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced two weeks ago that the Netherlands will go into "partial lockdown" to curb one of Europe's biggest coronavirus surges.

The new restrictions include orders for all bars, cafes and restaurants to close. The sale of alcohol and cannabis will also be banned after 8:00 p.m. in a bid to reduce the social contacts that have led to the rise in COVID-19 cases, Rutte said of the steps.