Germany warned Sunday its anti-coronavirus measures were likely to stay in place for several months while a top scientist behind vaccine efforts hoped life could return to "normal" by next winter.
The predictions came as the World Health Organisation unveiled data showing a record daily number of 660,905 new Covid-19 cases over the weekend.
"We will have to live with considerable precautions and restrictions for at least the next four to five months," Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
The government is to meet on Monday to decide whether to extend new measures provisionally in place until month's end and as neighbouring Austria revealed it is planning mass testing as a second lockdown comes into force.
Ugur Sahin, the Turkish co-founder of German firm BioN, meanwhile told the BBC's "The Andrew Marr Show" that "this winter will be hard" in the absence of a vaccine.
But if vaccinations can be rolled out widely in the coming months, life could return to "normal" by next winter, he added.
Sahin's firm is developing the leading candidate in the global vaccine chase along with US giant Pfizer.
The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care in Germany has soared from just over 360 in early October to more than 3,300 as a second coronavirus wave has engulfed much of Europe.
Saturday saw demonstrations across Germany against the restrictions, including one in Frankfurt where police used water cannon.
Meanwhile in Greece, police announced a ban on public gatherings of four or more people, adding that events and marches set to commemorate a 1973 student uprising would not take place this year.
The anniversary of the revolt against a military junta, considered to have helped restore democracy in the country, is treasured by many Greeks and was marked by a slew of demonstrations last year.
Opposition parties have pledged to proceed with events this year despite the new restrictions. (AFP)
Europe faces bleak winter in wait for vaccine
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