Austria powers down public life as fourth COVID-19 lockdown begins


VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria powered down public life on Monday as its fourth nationwide COVID-19 lockdown started, making it the primary western European nation to reimpose the drastic and unpopular measure this autumn within the face of surging coronavirus infections.

This lockdown is just like earlier ones however is the primary launched since vaccines turned extensively accessible. Most locations individuals collect, like eating places, cafes, bars, theatres, non-essential retailers and hairdressers can’t open their doorways for 10 days initially 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, ski lifts can stay open to the vaccinated. Lodges will, nevertheless, near vacationers not already staying there when the lockdown started.

“It’s a scenario the place we’ve got to react now,” Well being Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein informed ORF TV on Sunday evening.

“A lockdown, a comparatively robust methodology, a sledgehammer, is the one choice to scale back the numbers (of infections) right here.”

The conservative-led authorities imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated final week however every day infections saved extending far above the earlier peak reached a yr in the past and intensive care beds are working brief.

On Friday, the federal government introduced it was reimposing a full lockdown as of Monday and would make it obligatory to get vaccinated as of Feb. 1, a step few nations have taken.

Folks can depart their properties for a restricted variety of causes like going to work or shopping for necessities. Going for a stroll is allowed with no restrict on time or distance. Just one individual from one other family might be met at a time.

Workplaces and colleges will keep open, however the authorities has requested dad and mom to maintain their youngsters at dwelling if potential.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Modifying by Karishma Singh)

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