- Austria went into a nationwide lockdown early Monday in a desperate attempt to prevent rising coronavirus infections.
- According to officials, the lockdown would continue for at least 10 days and increase to 20.
In a desperate attempt to contain increasing coronavirus infections, Austria went into a countrywide lockdown early Monday.
The lockdown in the Alpine country comes as the average daily death rate has risen in recent weeks, with some hospitals warning that their intensive care units are nearly full.
According to officials, the lockdown would continue for at least 10 days and increase to 20. People will be ready to leave their homes only for specific tasks, such as shopping, going to the doctor, or exercising.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg similarly announced last week that a vaccine mandate would be implemented on February 1st. The exact details of how the mandate would function are unknown, but the government has said that those who comply will be fined.
On Friday, Schallenberg apologized to everyone vaccinated, saying it wasn’t fair that they had to endure the renewed lockdown restrictions. Austria had already tried a lockdown only for unvaccinated persons, but it did not reduce infection rates enough.
“I’m sorry for taking such a severe action,” he said on ORF, the German public broadcaster.
Inoculation rates in Austria have plateaued at one of the lowest in Western Europe, with only roughly 66 percent of the country’s 8.9 million people fully vaccinated.
Austria is one of several Western European countries where infection rates are fast-growing, raising fears that vaccination rates would be insufficient to prevent a winter increase in hospital admissions.
Austria’s Hospitals are not under the same strain as earlier in the epidemic, thanks to vaccinations, but many are still struggling to deal with increased numbers of COVID-19 patients while simultaneously trying to clear backlogs with weary or unwell staff.
Austria’s current lockdown is the country’s fourth since the pandemic began, and it comes as the country struggles to keep case counts from spinning out of control. It reported 15,809 new infections on Friday, an all-time high.
Christmas markets, restaurants, and most stores will be shut for at least 10 days, while kindergartens and schools will be open for those who need them, but all parents have been urged to put their kids at home if at all possible.
After 10 days, the impact of the lockdown will be evaluated. If infection cases have not diminished considerably, it can be extended for a maximum of 20 days.
According to authorities, the lockdown will be lifted for all vaccinated people after that, but it may remain in place for individuals who refuse to get vaccinated.
The new policies, particularly the vaccine mandate, have sparked outrage among some in the country. According to police, a Saturday protest in Vienna’s capital city gathered 40,000 people, including far-right organizations and groups members.
Source: CTV News
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