Austria will become the first European country to go back into full lockdown and the first to make Covid vaccination compulsory.Covid latest news: Austria to go into full lockdown and make vaccination compulsory
19 NOVEMBER 2021 • 12:08PMFollow
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Austria will become the first European country to go back into full lockdown and the first to make Covid vaccination compulsory.
“This is not easy for us, but in view of the number of infections we have to take such measures,” Alexander Schallenberg, the Austrian chancellor, told a press conference on Friday, adding: “It hurts me to have to impose any restrictions.”
The country is currently facing one of the worst outbreaks of the virus in Europe. It recorded 15,145 new cases on Friday and has a seven-day incidence of 989 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. However, there is a large anti-vaxxer movement and only 65 per cent of Austrians are fully jabbed.
This week Austria placed the unvaccinated under lockdown while those who had had both jabs remained free to move around, but Mr Schallenberg said that had not been enough to bring down the infection rate.
The whole country will be put back under a hard lockdown from Monday.
“Despite months of persuasion, we haven’t been able to convince enough people to get vaccinated,” said Mr Schallenberg. “We are demanding a lot from the vaccinated people in this country, because the unvaccinated people have not shown solidarity.”
Restaurants, pubs, and all non-essential shops will be closed and people will be told to remain at home from Monday. Classroom teaching will be suspended and schools will revert to distance learning.
The national lockdown is set to last three weeks but that will be reviewed after 10 days. Mr Schallenberg pledged there would be no more restrictions for the vaccinated after Dec 13.
The measures come after by the states of Upper Austria and Salzburg announced they would impose unilateral regional lockdowns on Thursday.
From Feb 1 next year all Austrians will be obliged to have both jabs, Mr Schallenber announced. Those who refuse could face heavy fines.
Follow the latest below.
Northern Ireland ‘unlikely to face new lockdown’
Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer does not think the region is facing the prospect of another coronavirus lockdown.
However, Sir Michael McBride warned that Northern Ireland was facing a very serious situation and some further restrictions on certain settings may be required if efforts to suppress the current Covid-19 wave fail.
“I do not think that we will go back to the damaging impact of lockdowns,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.
Europe’s fourth wave in pictures
Countries with compulsory jabs
- Indonesia made vaccinations mandatory in February, warning that anyone who refused to be vaccinated could be fined up to 5million rupiah (£260), or denied social assistance or government services.
- Micronesia mandated in July that its adult population be inoculated if they want to receive federal payments like pensions, salaries and Covid stimulus. The president received death threats as a result.
- Turkmenistan has made vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over. The order made no mention of punishments.
- Tajikistan in July also made it compulsory for all over 18, but the government decree did not mention punishments.
Covid cases hit new high in Hungary
Hungary reported 11,289 new coronavirus cases today, its highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic.
It comes after Hungarian authorities imposed new Covid restrictions on Thursday, a day before neighbouring Austria announced a full lockdown.
Hungary will make booster vaccinations compulsory for all healthcare workers and require mask wearing in most indoor places from Saturday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff said on Thursday.
Russia reports record number of Covid deaths
Russian authorities have reported a record number of coronavirus deaths for the third day in a row.
Russia’s state Covid task force reported 1,254 virus deaths today, after recording 1,251 on Thursday and 1,247 on Wednesday.
European stocks slide amid fresh lockdown fears
European stocks gave up early gains today as concerns over the economic damage from fresh Covid lockdowns hit sectors such as banks and car manufacturers.Advertisement
The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.3 per cent after hovering near record highs earlier in the session.
It lost ground after news that Austria will become the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full lockdown this autumn in an attempt to tackle a new wave of infections.
Jens Spahn, Germany’s health minister, said the coronavirus situation in the country was so grave that a lockdown, including for people who have been vaccinated, could not be ruled out.
Germany looks to antiviral pill for help
Germany is in negotiations with Pfizer about possibly buying its experimental antiviral pill to treat Covid-19, and is talking to other companies that are developing promising medicines, the health minister Jens Spahn also said on Friday.
“We’re in talks with Pfizer, with MSD, also with all the others … all those who have promising medicines,” Spahn told a news conference in Berlin.
Stay at home, says Germany’s disease expert
The head of Germany’s disease control agency has cast doubt on whether new government restrictions to fight coronavirus would be enough to break a vicious fourth wave of the pandemic.
Lothar Wieler, the director of the Robert Koch Institute, told reporters that with record-breaking infection levels, the nationwide curbs on the unvaccinated were insufficient.
As cases have topped 300 per 100,000 people, the rules for public spaces “are no longer enough in the current situation,” he said, calling it an “absolute emergency”.
Wieler called for big events to be cancelled, clubs and bars to be shuttered and private contacts limited to stop the spread of the virus. Germans should “stay home when they can”, he said.
French send reinforcements to police Guadeloupe protests
France will send at least 200 extra police officers to its overseas territory of Guadeloupe, said government ministers on Friday, after violent demonstrations broke out on the island this week due to protests over Covid protocols.
The French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Overseas Minister Sebastien Lecornu added in their joint statement on Friday that they “strongly condemned the violence that has taken place in the last few hours in Guadeloupe”.
Could unvaccinated Austrians rise up?
Austria has a large anti-vaxxer movement, and with only 65 per cent of Austrians fully jabbed, there are fears Friday’s announcement of forced vaccinations and lockdown could spark angry protests. Thousands of people have already taken to the streets in Austria to protests against restrictions this week and a major rally is planned for Saturday in Vienna.
Germany: We can’t rule out lockdown now
Germany’s coronavirus situation is so grave that a lockdown, including for people who have been vaccinated, cannot be ruled out, the health minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, echoing warnings on Thursday from Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Asked if Germany could rule out a lockdown that applies not only to the unvaccinated, Spahn told a news conference: “We are now in a situation – even if this produces a news alert – where we can’t rule anything out.”
The Chancellor said on Thursday that Germany would limit large parts of public life in areas where hospitals were becoming dangerously full of Covid patients to those who have either been vaccinated or have recovered from the illness.
Booster vaccinations added to NHS Covid Pass for foreign travel
Travellers who have received a coronavirus booster dose will be able to show their updated vaccination status through the NHS Covid Pass from today.
The addition will enable people who have had their booster, or third dose, to travel to countries with stricter entry requirements such as Israel, Croatia and Austria without completing a period of quarantine.
Booster and third doses will not be added to the domestic Covid pass, as it is not a current requirement for people in the UK to receive a booster jab to qualify as fully-vaccinated.
People travelling into England will also not be required to show evidence of a booster vaccination.
Lockdowns return to Europe as Covid surges
Good morning, and welcome to The Telegraph’s coronavirus liveblog.
Europe is staring down the barrel of full lockdowns as the fourth wave of Covid brings sweeping restrictions even for vaccinated people.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, left the door open to lockdown restrictions as she said “unspecified” measures would be introduced in the worst-hit states.
“It is absolutely time to act,” Mrs Merkel said, announcing measures stopping the unvaccinated from visiting bars, restaurants and theatres if hospitalisation rates became too high.
If virus rates rise further, governors would be empowered to take more draconian measures, including against the vaccinated.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Austria is to become the first European country to go back into full lockdown.
Above is a snapshot of infection rates across Europe.