Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Partial lockdown fails, Austria back in full lockdown

Covid: Austria back in lockdown despite protests | BBC News

November 22, 2021 - "Austria has returned to a full national lockdown as protests against new restrictions aimed at curbing Covid-19 infections spread across Europe.... Austrians have been asked to work from home and non-essential shops have closed.... Last week Austria became the first European country to make Covid vaccination a legal requirement, with the law due to take effect in February.... 

"This is Austria's fourth national 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 must all close their doors. These measures will continue until 12 December, although officials said they will be reassessed after 10 days....

Speaking on ORF TV on Sunday night, health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said the government had to 'react now'. 'A lockdown, a relatively tough method, a sledgehammer, is the only option to reduce the numbers [of infections] here,' he told the broadcaster.

"Tens of thousands of people protested in the capital Vienna ahead of the lockdown. Brandishing national flags and banners reading 'Freedom', protesters shouted 'Resistance!' and booed the police.... Jennifer Wall, a British woman who moved to Vienna about two years ago, has ... been double-jabbed. She described the protests over the weekend as 'disruptive' and 'scary'. 'The situation here is really tense,' she said. 'There is a clear divide between vaccinated and not vaccinated.' About 65% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated - one of the lowest rates in Western Europe."

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COVID-19: Austria coronavirus lockdown feels not just like a health crisis, but also a cultural, social and political storm | Sky News - Adam Parsons:

November 22, 2021 - "Yes, this is lockdown, but it isn't quite the eerie emptiness of 18 months ago. Instead, the Austrian capital feels like it's closed for business. The clothes shops, the ice rinks and, of course, the Christmas markets. All shut.... Austria has seen a precipitous rise in the number of coronavirus infections recently, recording far more daily cases than it did during the first wave of the pandemic. So it has now introduced a national lockdown that largely resembles the original version - people told to work from home and only to leave the house for essential purposes....

"The lockdown is in place for 10 days but can be extended for a further 10 if necessary. After that point, if rates have fallen, the ties may be removed for vaccinated people, while restrictions remain in place for those who have not been inoculated. Perhaps that's why this new lockdown feels so very different to previous incarnations. Last year, the people of disparate European towns and cities seemed to share a sense of 'in it together' camaraderie as they faced up to the hardships of lockdown. Vienna didn't feel like that [today]. 

"We meet a group of young men strolling through the town, all of them dubious about the lockdown. One of them, Matthew, tells me that he only allowed himself to be vaccinated because it was the only way he could be guaranteed access to bars and restaurants. But he insists that this latest lockdown is 'a breach of human rights'. His friend, Andrew, was vaccinated early, and is at pains to say he's not an anti-vaxxer, but is troubled by what he sees as the changing narrative. 'When we were saying that it's 95% effective at the beginning, we're seeing that it's definitely not the case now. We're saying no more lockdowns yet we're in lockdowns now. How can we really trust the information that's being given to us at the moment? I think at this point, it's very, very difficult to trust anything that's going on. And I don't necessarily think we can trust the reasons for why we're in this lockdown at the moment."

"That's why this lockdown is different. Europe saw a series of protests over the weekend, vehement in their opposition to either new restrictions, or vaccination programmes, or the spectre of mandatory vaccinations, or perhaps all of them put together. Many Europeans, rightly or wrongly, have had their faith eroded in both the political and scientific establishment. Very public promises have, in the eyes of many Austrians, been broken and now those disenchanted people feel as if they are being stigmatised. This doesn't feel simply like a health crisis anymore, but also a cultural, social and political storm. Many other nations will be watching, and waiting to see what happens in Austria, and learning lessons."

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