Covid: Austria back in lockdown despite protests

World

Austria has returned to a full national lockdown as protests against new restrictions aimed at curbing Covid-19 infections spread across Europe.

From midnight, Austrians have been asked to work from home and non-essential shops have closed.

New restrictions have sparked protests throughout Europe. People clashed with police in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Infections rates have risen sharply on the continent, prompting warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Saturday WHO regional director Dr. Hans Kluge said that unless measures were tightened across Europe – such as on vaccines, wearing masks and with Covid passes for venues – half a million more deaths could be recorded by next spring.

Last week Austria became the first European country to make Covid vaccination a legal requirement, with the law due to take effect in February. Politicians in neighbouring Germany are debating similar measures as intensive care units there fill up and case numbers hit fresh records.

This is the country’s fourth lockdown since the pandemic began.

Authorities have ordered residents to stay home for all but essential reasons, including work, exercise and shopping for food.

Restaurants, bars, hairdressers, theatres and non-essential shops are all expected to close their doors. These measures will continue until December 12, although officials said they will be reassessed after 10 days.

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