Austria enters fourth lockdown as COVID instances soar anew in Europe


VIENNA/BERLIN (Reuters) – Austria entered its fourth nationwide lockdown on Monday after tens of hundreds of individuals, a lot of them far-right supporters, protested in Vienna towards renewed curbs on motion as Europe once more turns into the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Austrian authorities additionally introduced it could make it obligatory to get vaccinated as of Feb. 1 in a rustic the place many are deeply sceptical about inoculations, a view inspired by the far-right Freedom Social gathering, the third largest in parliament.

The streets of Vienna have been quieter than regular on Monday as cafe terraces stood empty and most outlets remained closed.

About 40,000 individuals protested peacefully in Austria’s capital on Saturday, with solely six arrests. However protests towards the reimposition of restrictions meant to comprise COVID-19 contagion spreading anew turned violent in Belgium and the Netherlands over the weekend.

Inventory markets kicked off the week on a cautious be aware after posting a second consecutive weekly drop, and the euro struggled as merchants weighed the dangers of recent lockdowns.

“The issue in Europe is the unfold of COVID-19 which signifies that extra lockdowns and different well being restrictions partly towards the non-vaccinated ought to quickly enhance within the subsequent two weeks,” mentioned Sebastian Galy, a strategist at Societe Generale.

“That in flip ought to have a destructive impression on some companies and impression negatively development, a state of affairs that had been ever extra priced into the European fairness market.”

Roughly 66% of Austria’s inhabitants is absolutely vaccinated towards COVID-19, one of many lowest charges in western Europe.

Eating places, cafes, bars, theatres, non-essential outlets and hairdressers can’t open their doorways for 10 days, and possibly as many as 20, the federal government says.

Christmas markets, an enormous draw for vacationers that had solely simply begun to open, should additionally shut however, in a last-minute change, Austrian ski lifts can stay open to the vaccinated.

Motels will, nonetheless, near vacationers not already staying there when the lockdown started.

“It’s a state of affairs the place we have now to react now,” Well being Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein instructed ORF TV on Sunday evening.

“A lockdown, a comparatively robust technique, a sledgehammer, is the one possibility to cut back the numbers (of infections) right here.”

The conservative-led authorities imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated final week however each day infections saved extending far above the earlier peak, given continued vaccine scepticism as winter attracts in, driving extra individuals indoors.

Riots broke out in cities throughout the Netherlands on Sunday, the third evening in a row that police clashed with mobs of indignant youths who set fires and threw rocks to protest at COVID-19 restrictions.

Police and protesters clashed within the streets of Brussels on Sunday, with officers firing water cannon and tear fuel at demonstrators throwing rocks and smoke bombs, witnesses mentioned.

In lots of elements of Germany, together with its capital Berlin, Christmas markets opened for the primary time in two years on Monday even because the COVID-19 an infection price reached a contemporary report.

However states bordering Austria and the Czech Republic which have by far Germany’s highest case numbers have launched stricter guidelines together with cancelling Christmas markets, barring the unvaccinated from eating places and bars, and nighttime curfews.

Eikon customers can click on for a case tracker.

(Writing by Nick Macfie; Enhancing by Mark Heinrich)

Source link