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Nine Million People of Austria in Strict Lockdown

WebPublicaPress (New York / Vienna) — Austrians went back into lockdown after fierce protests over the weekend, for a period of at least 10 days and potentially 20. Elswhere, Germany logged its highest seven-day incidence of the pandemic. DW has the latest, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported quoting other media sources.

Austria has struggled with rising COVID infections, with average daily deaths tripling in recent weeks. Hospital care units also warned they were reaching maximum capacity. Around 66% of Austria’s population has been vaccinated so far. The government had earlier imposed a lockdown for the unvaccinated only, but cases continued to rise.

Empty streets of Vienna, with a man and boy seen walking down the road, November 15, 2021Austria’s nearly nine million people entered a strict lockdown 22 November 2021

Protests in Austria against strict COVID measures

The lockdown will last for at least 10 days, and could be extended to 20, according to officials. People are not allowed to leave their homes during the lockdown period, except to go to work, get groceries, or exercise. Restaurants can only provide food to take away. Sports stadiums will stay empty. Schools remain open but parents can opt to keep their children at home.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also announced mandatory vaccination for citizens beginning February 2022, becoming the first European country to impose the rule. Schallenberg said details were yet to be hammered out but that people who did not get vaccinated would likely face fines.

The decisions prompted a fierce backlash, with thousands of people taking to the streets of the Austrian capital city, Vienna, over the weekend.

Austria announces COVID lockdown, vaccine mandate 

Similar protests against COVID curbs also erupted across severalEuropean countries, like the Netherlands and Belgium, this weekend.

COVID: Anti-lockdown protests gather force across Europe

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:

Europe

Germany reported 30,643 new infections and 62 deaths on Monday, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s public health authority. The seven-day incidence rate hit a fresh high of 386 new infections per 100,000 people per week.

Although there isn’t a nationwide lockdown in place, most states have imposed some restrictions, such as stopping unvaccinated people or those who cannot prove they have instead recovered from COVID from attending public events and some stores.

The two worst-hit states at present, Bavaria and Saxony, are imposing new restrictions this week. In Saxony, cultural and recreational facilities, bars, clubs and Christmas markets will be shut for three weeks, while tourist overnight stays are not permitted in hotels and guest houses. Restaurant opening hours will be restricted. In Bavaria, starting Wednesday, contact limits will go into force for the unvaccinated, pubs and clubs will close for three weeks and Christmas markets are not planned. Sporting and cultural events will be allowed to accommodate spectators, but in limited numbers.

Asia-Pacific

Australia announced on Monday it was reopening borders for students and some visa holders, as well as Japanese and Korean citizens, from December 1. It reopened borders last month for Australians only, putting thousands of people who chose to leave the country in limbo if they wished to return.

It is not clear when tourists are allowed to visit for leisure.

Singapore’s relaxation of some COVID rules went into force Monday. Vaccinated people, for example, can meet in larger groups of five, up from two at a time. However, other protocols like requiring people to wear masks in public spaces remain.

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