Europe strengthens restrictions to tackle wave of Covid-19 infections

Pressure is growing on Austria’s federal government to impose a nationwide shutdown after the states of Upper Austria and Salzburg ordered all people to stay home regardless of their vaccination status. how.

Austria is among a number of European countries that are introducing new restrictions on the battle a fourth wave of infections. Slovakia and the Czech Republic, both of which recorded their worst daily infection figures since the start of the pandemic on Wednesday, introduced new measures on Thursday. Belgium has adopted a four-day work-from-home rule that will go into effect next week. Germany’s federal and state governments met on Thursday to discuss the new measures.

Thomas Stelzer, the governor of Upper Austria, has urged Austria’s federal government to take measures, including closing non-essential shops and seating locations nationwide.

“We have very, very little room to maneuver,” he said on Thursday. “Without a total federal ban on Monday, we will continue with a several-week-long strike in Upper Austria and the neighboring state of Salzburg.”

State governors will meet with the federal government on Friday to discuss proposals for a nationwide shutdown. The leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said she supported the plan.

Many believe that a short lockdown is the best option to allow the winter sports season to proceed with relative normality from December. Skiing and snowboarding are estimated to attract around 600,000 tourists to Austria. annual. According to Dutch bank ING, in the winter, sports make up 4% of gross domestic product.

Austria registered an average of seven days with 136 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents on Wednesday, one of the highest rates in Europe, according to Johns Hopkins University, according to Johns Hopkins University. A day earlier, it recorded a new high of 15,609 new daily cases. The country has operated a Controversial lockdown against the unvaccinated, with severe financial penalties being enforced on those who break the rules.

The graph shows that cases have reached record highs in several countries and that more acute indicators are moving in the same direction.

Despite widespread availability, about a quarter of Austrians over the age of 12 have yet to receive any dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Skepticism about the effectiveness of the vaccine and opposition to its effective administration is popular in Austria and other European countries.

In Slovakia, prime minister Eduard Heger said he would introduce a “lockdown of the unvaccinated” for three weeks from Monday. Only people who have been immunized or recovered from coronavirus in the past six months are allowed into non-essential shops, restaurants, sports facilities and public gatherings.

The Czech Republic has announced similar measures, banning unvaccinated people who have not had a Covid-19 shot in the past six months from restaurants and public gatherings.

According to Johns Hopkins, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have a seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants at 116 and 115 respectively. Both countries have lower vaccination rates than the EU average, with just 58 % of Czechs and 43% of Slovaks are fully immunized.

Graph shows rapidly rising Covid cases and deaths in much of Europe, prompting governments to introduce restrictive measures

In Belgium, employees will have to work from home four days a week until December 12, when this requirement will be relaxed to three days.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said late Wednesday when announcing the measures that everyone can follow, so we can take measures that everyone can follow, because so we can avoid another round of lockdown.

Belgium has experienced a steady increase in infections and hospitalizations, despite having 75% of the population fully vaccinated. The country aims to complete the reinforcement operation by March to April next year.

Additional reporting by John Burn-Murdoch

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