Austria has re-entered a full nationwide lockdown in an effort to include rocketing coronavirus infections as a fourth wave grips Europe.
Monday’s move within the Alpine nation comes as common each day deaths have tripled in latest weeks and hospitals in closely hit states warn that their intensive care items are approaching peak capability.
The lockdown will final a minimum of 10 days however may lengthen to 20, officers stated. It makes Austria the primary western European nation to reimpose a full shutdown since vaccines grew to become broadly accessible.
Under the measures, folks can solely depart home for particular causes, together with shopping for groceries, going to the physician, or exercising.
Non-essential retailers have closed and Austrians are being requested to work from home if attainable.
Fewer than 66 p.c of Austria’s 8.9 million individuals are totally vaccinated, and inoculations have plateaued at one of many lowest charges in Western Europe.
As it locks down once more, Austria can be introducing a vaccine mandate as of February 1 in a bid to curtail transmission charges, making it the primary European nation to enshrine inoculation towards COVID-19 as a authorized requirement.
The particulars of how the mandate will work should not but clear, however the authorities has stated individuals who don’t adhere to it would face fines.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg apologised to all vaccinated folks on Friday, saying it was not honest that they needed to endure underneath the renewed lockdown restrictions.
Earlier, Austria had imposed a lockdown solely for unvaccinated folks however this didn’t sluggish infections sufficient.
Austria is amongst a number of western European international locations the place infections are rising and the place there are considerations that vaccination charges are inadequate to carry off a winter surge at hospitals.
On Friday, it reported 15,809 new infections, an all-time excessive.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Vienna, stated European governments will likely be watching the state of affairs in Austria intently as they too take into account reimposing restrictions.
“Across Europe, we are seeing a fourth wave, and there is concern among all European governments,” he stated.
“Europe is now looking at Austria to see if this lockdown is going to have a profound effect. If it does, then we may be looking at full lockdowns right across Europe.”
The new measures, notably the vaccine mandate, have been met with fierce opposition amongst some.
A Saturday protest in Vienna drew 40,000 folks, in response to police, together with members of far-right events and teams.
Simmons stated some Austrians felt the contemporary restrictions and shift to obligatory vaccination had been “too much for them”.
“The protests on Saturday showed how people feel, and people are accusing the government of authoritarian tactics,” he stated.
Demonstrations towards renewed virus restrictions befell in different European international locations over the weekend, together with Belgium, Croatia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that Europe, which is once more the epicentre of the pandemic, may witness 500,000 extra COVID-19 deaths by February except motion is taken to stem the unfold of the virus.