Austria’s lockdown suppresses holiday sentiment to curb COVID-19

Vienna (Associated Press)-Austrians tasted the last packaged mulled wine Christmas Before the beginning of the holiday season ended, the market put the country that brought the world a “quiet night” into a blockade of the pandemic for the fourth time on Monday.

The capital Vienna wakes up groggy, and people start to work, take their children to school or exercise outdoors, more or less as usual.

This is not a severe lockdown at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, when people’s actions were strictly monitored and discouraged. In accordance with the government’s commitment to strengthen control, police cars were dispatched, but no spot checks were conducted.

“I am particularly annoyed by the blockade,” said Georg Huber, a lawyer who went to the office. “I don’t know. More research should be done in the summer? People should implement mandatory vaccination in the summer, but it turns out that it is not enough to expect people to get there without any coercion. I think the government just overslept.”

Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe, accounting for approximately 66% of the population of 8.9 million. There are a few voices who refuse to inoculate.

The government announced a nationwide lockdown on Friday because the average daily death toll has tripled in recent weeks, and hospitals in the hardest-hit area warned that the intensive care unit is reaching its capacity limit.

The new restriction will be implemented for at least 10 days, but may be extended for another 10 days, after which the government has stated that it plans to open it so that Austrians can celebrate Christmas generally. However, those who have not been vaccinated will still be restricted.

Starting Monday, people can only leave home for certain reasons, including shopping for groceries, going to the doctor or exercising. Kindergartens and schools will continue to be open to those in need, but all parents are required to keep their children at home as much as possible.

Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein stated that in order to reduce the number of new infections per day (which has soared to 15,000 per day) and to reduce the number of virus patients in the intensive care unit (currently 531), the lockdown necessary. But the most important thing is that he said that it is necessary to bring relief to “people who work in this industry, nurses and doctors who can no longer stand it.”

“This is a situation where we have to react now. The only way is to block, which is a relatively difficult way to lower the numbers with a wooden hammer,” Mukstein told the state broadcaster ORF on Sunday night.

Political analysts say that the government did not communicate the need for vaccination early and effectively, and after former Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz declared the pandemic “end” last summer, many Austrians did not take it seriously enough. Treat the sport carefully. Kurz was forced to step down due to a corruption scandal last month and was replaced by his foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg, who extended the controversial blockade of unvaccinated to everyone within a week. Blockade.

Schellenberg also promised to make vaccination mandatory before February 1. The specific details are still to be finalized. Experts speculate that it may be limited to certain age groups, and may even be related to employment as it does in Italy. In Italy, a health pass is required to enter the workplace. In addition to vaccinations or proof of recovery from the virus, a 48-hour negative test can also be used to obtain a health pass.

On the eve of the last blockade in Austria, people flocked Christmas On the last night of public socializing, many people spent the weekend shopping before the store closed. The Austrian Trade Association stated that Saturday’s sales increased by 15% compared to the same day before the pandemic in 2019, when they were queuing to take advantage of “Black Friday” transactions.

But many people worry that for companies that rely on holidays, the last-minute boost will not be enough to save the season.

Sophie Souffle sells upgraded jewelry on the market all the year round. She said she made most of the money in six weeks. Christmas Market period. She said that any help promised by the government is enough, “but not enough to invest in future business.”

When people were trawling the stalls, she looked around, focused more on merchandise than buying merchandise, and enjoyed the company of others in groups before parties were restricted. Compared with the festive atmosphere, she felt more despair.

“This sentiment was before the end of the world,” she said.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

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