Categories
World

Austria imposes full lockdown as Covid-19 infections surge

Days after Austria imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated, it has announced a full national Covid-19 lockdown starting Monday.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said it would last a maximum of 20 days and there would be a legal requirement to get vaccinated from 1 February 2022.

He was responding to record cases numbers and one of the lowest vaccination levels in Western Europe.




Many other European countries are imposing restrictions as cases rise.

“We don’t want a fifth wave,” said Mr Schallenberg after meeting the governors of Austria’s nine provinces at a resort in west of the country.

For a long time, there had been a consensus over avoiding mandatory vaccinations, the chancellor said.



However, too many people had been incited not to get the jab, because of “too many political forces, flimsy vaccination opponents and fake news”, he added. The measures are yet to be finalised.

Latest figures show an incidence rate of 990.7 cases per 100,000 people in the past week, and Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said imposing a lockdown was a “last resort”.

Under the measures, Austrians will be asked to work from home, non-essential shops will close, and schools will remain open for children who require face-to-face learning. They will continue until 12 December, but will be reassessed after 10 days.

Austria’s is the first full lockdown imposed by an EU country this winter.

The Europe regional director of the World Health Organization, Hans Kluge, has warned of a hard winter ahead. He blamed insufficient vaccination coverage along with “the easing of preventive measures and the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant”.