A statewide lockdown was instituted by Austria early Monday morning in order to battle an increase in coronavirus infections. Other European countries dealing with national outbreaks of the virus that are straining health-care systems are carefully watching Austria’s actions.
The measures are intended to endure for a maximum of 20 days, although they will be reevaluated after the first ten days. They necessitate individuals staying at home for reasons other than the bare necessities such as shopping, going to the doctor, and exercising. Restauration establishments and most retail establishments will shut, while major events will be cancelled. Even while schools and day care facilities may continue to operate, parents are strongly recommended to keep their children at home.
It was a day after many Austrians had spent their last day out at coffeehouses and Christmas markets throughout the nation when the new lockdown measures went into effect.
People flocked to Christmas markets around Vienna on Sunday, eager to purchase presents and enjoy one final round of hot beverages and food before the holiday season officially ends. While strolling around the Freyung Christmas market in Vienna, Alexandra Ljesevic and her sister Anna enjoyed hot mulled wine and punch among the festive ambiance of wooden kiosks and twinkling Christmas lights.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also stated on Friday that the country would implement a vaccination mandate starting on February 1. The specifics of how the requirement will be implemented are still up in the air.
In an interview published Sunday in the Kurier newspaper, Schallenberg expressed disappointment that the Austrian government had to rely on a mandate to guarantee that a sufficient number of people were vaccinated against the flu. Austria’s 8.9 million people are completely vaccinated at a rate of little under 66 percent, making it one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe.
Austria recorded 15,297 new infections on Saturday, after a week in which daily cases reached 10,000 for the first time. As the number of coronavirus patients in critical care units climbs, hospitals, particularly those in the most afflicted districts of Salzburg and Upper Austria, are becoming overburdened, particularly in Salzburg and Upper Austria.
Schallenberg said he and other authorities had hoped that a new lockdown would not be required this summer, and that it had been a difficult choice to impose one that would harm those who had been vaccinated.
A significant number of Austrians, as well as vaccination opponents, have expressed strong objection to the new policies, particularly the vaccine requirement. According to police, 40,000 people turned out for a demonstration in Vienna’s capital on Saturday, including members of far-right political parties and organisations.
The lockdown is the most stringent precaution Austrian authorities have implemented in response to a fourth wave of illnesses and fatalities. Unvaccinated persons were barred from restaurants, hotels, and major events earlier this month as part of the government’s first attempt to compel them to obtain the vaccination. Then authorities imposed lockdown procedures that were only applicable to those who had not been vaccinated.
According to the Associated Press, Nehammer said on Sunday that police conducted 150,000 inspections in only one week to see if individuals outside of their houses were complying with the new laws.
When Rene Schlosser and Silvia Weidenauer stopped by the Rathausplatz Christmas market on Sunday, they were sipping mulled wine from heart-shaped red cups, which they bought at the market. They travelled from their home in Austria’s Waldviertel area for the day in order to get a peek of the markets before everything closed for the day.