Austria, Netherlands eye partial lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar

Austria could be days away from imposing a lockdown for the unvaccinated, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Thursday, as a powerful fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic sends infection rates further into record territory.

The Alpine republic last week tightened restrictions, requiring citizens to either be vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 to keep the right to visit cafes, restaurants, theaters or hairdressers. But with the weekly incidence of cases soaring to 760 per 100,000 people, further measures will be needed, the conservative leader said.

“There is an enormous dynamic in the pandemic right now,” Schallenberg told a news conference in Austria’s westernmost province of Vorarlberg. Austria’s vaccination rate — about 65 percent of the population — was “shamefully low,” he added: “We are days away from imposing a lockdown for unvaccinated people,”

Spiraling caseloads have also led a pandemic panel advising the Dutch government to recommend imposing Western Europe’s first partial lockdown since the summer, Reuters reported. Steps under consideration include canceling events, closing theaters and cinemas, and imposing earlier closing times for cafes and restaurants. Schools would remain open.

After a partial lockdown of around two weeks, entrance to public places should be limited to people who have been fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection, according to the advice. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Cabinet is expected to decide on the measures on Friday.

In Germany, the parties hoping to form the country’s next government today pitched to parliament a series of measures to curb daily infections that set a record 50,000 but, while these would restrict the right to go to a restaurant or to the movies to those who have been vaccinated against, or recovered, from COVID-19 they stopped short of imposing further restrictions on the unvaccinated.



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