Austria announces nationwide lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar
Austria will impose a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Saturday, after a nighttime curfew and partial shutdown failed to control the country's surge in coronavirus cases.
Why it matters: Austria is experiencing an average of 7,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, Kurz tweeted on Saturday. The nation confirmed a record 9,586 new virus cases on Friday, per Reuters.
Details: Non-essential shops will close and all people will be required to stay home, except when shopping for essential goods or exercising, Kurz said.
- He also said that people should work from home as much as possible.
- Primary schools and kindergartens will join secondary schools in switching to distance learning. Childcare will still be provided for those who need it, Kurz said.
- The lockdown is set to end on Dec. 7. "Our goal: On December 7th, compulsory schools and retail should be the first to reopen after the lockdown," Kurz said.
What he's saying: Austria closed cafes, bars and restaurants and imposed a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. earlier this month, but because the "numbers are still not falling as they should, this makes a further tightening necessary," Kurz tweeted.
- Kurz also urged people to not meet anyone, saying that every social contact is "one too many."
- "These measures are extremely drastic. But we want to make sure that the lockdown is strong enough so that the number of infections also drops quickly. This is the only way we can prevent our health system from being overwhelmed," he added.
- "One thing is clear: Nobody wants schools, restaurants, shops, etc. to be closed. But we have to take this step together. Let's help together!"
The big picture: Countries across Europe, including, the U.K., France, Greece and Italy, have tightened their coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks as the number of new infections grow.
Go deeper... In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe