Austria again imposed a total country-wide lockdown on this country, becoming the first in Western Europe to adopt the blockade again. The measure takes effect this Monday (22) and will last for at least 10 days.
In addition, the country’s president announced that vaccination will be mandatory from February 1st – this will be the strictest measure to control the pandemic ever seen across the European continent.
“We don’t want a fifth wave. We don’t want a sixth and seventh wave. We don’t want to have this discussion next summer,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference.
Schools and kindergartens remain open even during the blockade. But, according to Schallenberg, parents can take their children out of school if they wish.
Authorities also recommended the use of FFP2 masks in closed spaces and said employees could request the option of working from home.
Last week, Austria had already adopted yet another restrictive order: a lockdown for non-vaccinated people over 12 years old (which will be maintained even after the suspension of the national blockade). Still, the cases continued to set records. In the last seven days, the incidence of cases was 991 for every 100,000 inhabitants.
The measures have caused discomfort for part of the population, which does not agree with vaccination. Last Saturday (20), thousands of people protested against restrictions related to the coronavirus.
The crowd, of about 35,000 people, gathered in front of the former imperial palace in the center of Vienna, waving flags and carrying banners that read “no vaccination”, “enough” or “down with the fascist dictatorship”.
The Freedom Party and other groups critical of the vaccine were already planning an act, but the announcement of the lockdown set fire to the base and led the group’s leader, Herbert Kickl, to declare that, “from today, Austria is a dictatorship”. But he didn’t show up as he was infected with Covid-19.
To prevent further violence, more than 1,400 police were dispatched across the country to maintain public order.
Authorities are trying to convince the population to receive their doses, while most Austrians remain skeptical about the vaccine. Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in all of Western Europe – there, only 66% of the population is fully immunized against Covid-19.
During the press conference, the chancellor said that anti-vaccine activists act irresponsibly. “We have many political forces in this country that are fighting vehement vaccination, massively and publicly. This is irresponsible. It’s actually an attack on our health care system,” he said.
Austria recommends the application of the immunizing agent for everyone over 12 years of age. In addition, the country has started a pilot project to vaccinate children aged five to 11 in Vienna, the Austrian capital.
The arrival of winter worries the whole of Europe, which is experiencing an escalation of cases and re-imposition of lockdowns in several countries, such as the Netherlands.
* With information from Reuters
Reference: CNN Brasil