Germany may follow Austria into full national lockdown as Covid-19 cases soar
Austria became the first country in Europe to make vaccines mandatory by law and will face another full national lockdown from Monday as a fourth wave sweeps Europe again.
Now Berlin is warning it could follow in Austria’s footsteps in closing schools, shops and bars – as Vienna hits out at “radical anti-vaxxers and fake news” after revealing plans to make jabs compulsory.
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said the coronavirus lockdown would run for a “maximum of 20 days”.
He also announced it would be a “requirement to get vaccinated” in Austria from 1 February.
It means students will be back to home-schooling, and most businesses will close. Planned cultural events will be cancelled.
“We do not want a fifth wave,” Mr Schallenberg said.
“Nor do we want a sixth or seventh wave. This is very painful.”
Austria is the fourth country – after Indonesia, Micronesia and Turkmenistan – to make jabs compulsory amongst the adult population.
Mr Schallenberg said: “Whipped up by radical anti-vaxxers, by fake news, too many among us didn’t get vaccinated. The results are overcrowded intensive care units and enormous suffering.”
He said the government, therefore, took “a very difficult decision…that we will quickly introduce a nationwide vaccine mandate” from 1 February.
Austria lockdown due to low vaccine rates
Austria has already seen an introduction of strict rules along with Germany and Slovakia in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Around 66% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in western Europe.
Its infection rate is among the highest in the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 971.5 per 100,000 people – and daily cases keep setting records.
The country of 8.9 million has reported more than 10,000 new infection cases daily, while hospitals have been overwhelmed with many new COVID-19 patients and deaths have also been rising again.
Monday’s national lockdown is planned to last for 10 days and could be extended to a maximum of 20 days if cases have not dropped enough.
New Covid wave sweeping Europe
A Reuters tally said last week Europe accounted for more than half of the seven-day average of global infections and about half of the latest deaths.
Germany announced new restrictions on public life for those who have not been vaccinated in areas where hospitals are becoming overwhelmed.
The German health minister Jens Spahn today hinted Germany could follow Austria is announcing a full lockdown.
“We are now in a situation … where we can’t rule anything out,” he said.
“We are in a national emergency.”
Parts of Germany have already closed the shutters on businesses.
Greece has also introduced restrictions on the unvaccinated following a sharp increase in cases. The death rate is at its highest in six months – as roughly one-third of Greece’s population is unvaccinated.
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