Covid: Full lockdown in Austria while situation worsens across Europe

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Covid: Full Lockdown In Austria While Situation Worsens Across Europe Covid: Full Lockdown In Austria While Situation Worsens Across Europe
tends to a patient on an intensive care unit (ICU) at a hospital of the Salzburg state clinics in Salzburg. Photo: Getty Images
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Reuters

Covid-19 cases are surging across Europe with Austria entering full lockdown, while the same cannot be ruled out in Germany according to health officials.

Austria will become the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full coronavirus lockdown this autumn to tackle a new wave of infections, and will require its whole population to be vaccinated as of February, its government said on Friday.

Roughly two-thirds of Austria's population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. Its infections are among the highest on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 991 per 100,000 people.

Austria introduced a lockdown for all those who were unvaccinated on Monday but since then infections have continued to set new records.

The two worst-hit provinces, Salzburg and Upper Austria, said on Thursday they would introduce their own lockdowns, raising pressure on the government to do the same nationally.

Mandatory vaccination

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"We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated," Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference, saying the lockdown would start on Monday and the requirement to be vaccinated on February 1st.

"It hurts that such measures still have to be taken."

With cold weather setting in across Europe as winter approaches, governments have been forced to consider reimposing unpopular lockdowns. The Netherlands has reimposed a partial lockdown, with bars and restaurants closing at 8pm.

The issue has also deepened a rift between Mr Schallenberg's conservatives and their coalition partner, the left-wing Greens. Mr Schallenberg said only days ago that he did not want to impose extra restrictions on the unvaccinated, even as health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein called for a nighttime curfew.

Germany's coronavirus situation is so grave that a lockdown, including for people who have been vaccinated, cannot be ruled out, health minister Jens Spahn said on Friday.

Asked if Germany could rule out a lockdown that applies not only to the unvaccinated, Spahn told a news conference: "We are now in a situation even if this produces a news alert - where we can't rule anything out."

Covid patients

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday Germany will limit large parts of public life in areas where hospitals are becoming dangerously full of Covid-19 patients to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the illness.

European stocks gave up early gains on Friday as concerns over the economic damage from fresh Covid-19 lockdowns in the region hammered cyclical sectors such as banks and automakers.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.3 per cent after hovering near record highs earlier in the session.

 

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