Austria reintroduces a state of emergency as the virus tightens its grip and protests spread across Europe

Austria will make vaccination mandatory from February next year. (Photo: Sky News)

Austria has initiated another COVID-19 lockdown to contain the virus' spread.

This is the first lockdown since vaccines became widely available, yet it comes when only 65 percent of the population is completely vaccinated.

The government has stated that most meeting places - restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres, non-essential shops, and hairdressers - will be closed for ten days, although this might be extended to twenty days.

Tourists who were not already staying in hotels when the lockdown began will be unable to check-in.

The country's famed Christmas markets will also close. However, ski lifts will remain available for individuals who have received vaccinations.

Individuals are permitted to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons, such as going to work or purchasing necessities.

They may also go for a walk but may only interact with one member of the other household at a time.

While businesses and schools will stay open, the government has advised parents to keep their children at home if possible.

"This is a situation in which we must act immediately," Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein told ORF television.

"A lockdown - a relatively tough method, a sledgehammer - is the only option to reduce the numbers (of infections) here."

It comes a week after individuals who are not vaccinated are placed on lockdown, but Austria's government has announced that vaccination will become mandatory beginning in February.

In recent days, the number of new cases in Austria has fluctuated between 14,000 and 15,000.

This is a significant increase from a few hundred each day during the summer and less than 3,000 per day for much of October.

Europe accounted for more than half of global average seven-day cases and roughly half of recent deaths - the highest numbers since April last year, when COVID-19 reached its initial peak in Italy.

However, governments must strike a difficult balance between containing the disease and sustaining a fragile economic recovery.

Thousands of demonstrators demonstrated across Europe over the weekend as leaders sought to tighten COVID-19 restrictions in response to the new outbreak of infections.

On Sunday evening in the Netherlands, riots erupted for the third night in a row in many towns and cities, including Leeuwarden and Groningen in the north, Enschede in the east, and Tilburg in the south.

Two football matches in the country's professional league were halted on Saturday after supporters broke into stadiums, and police in the Hague said that five policemen were hurt while attempting to apprehend rioting youngsters who ignited at least two fires and launched fireworks.

The most violent events occurred in Rotterdam on Friday night, when police clashed with mobs of angry youngsters who set fire to cars and threw rocks, resulting in 51 arrests.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people marched in Brussels to protest the reinforcement of COVID-19 restrictions implemented in response to the recent coronavirus outbreak.

Many of the estimated 35,000 police officers at the march had already left when the demonstration devolved into violence when several hundred people began destroying cars and setting garbage bins on fire, prompting the police to retaliate with tear gas and water cannon.

The conflicts resulted in the injury of three police officers and one demonstrator. Additionally, authorities added that 42 protesters were detained, and two were arrested and prosecuted in connection with the march's subsequent violence.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Austria, many of them members of far-right groups, marched through Vienna over the weekend, carrying fire-lit torches and placards proclaiming "My body, my choice" Others set fire to face masks.

Protesters hurled pyrotechnics and bottles at police, who responded with pepper spray.

Numerous arrests were made, although authorities did not say how many.

Thousands of people demonstrated in Zagreb, Croatia's capital, waving Croatian flags, nationalist and religious symbols, and anti-vaccine slogans.

This weekend, thousands of people demonstrated in Zurich against the concept of a Swiss COVID certificate becoming mandatory for entrance to some public areas. Still, unlike past demonstrations in Bern's capital, the weekend's protests were peaceful.

Publish : 2021-11-22 11:20:00

Give Your Comments