Two Austrian regions to go into full lockdown next week

Two Austrian regions will impose full restrictive measures for all people from next week to curb soaring rates of coronavirus infection as hospitals struggle to cope.

Speaking at a state parliament meeting today, Upper Austria’s conservative governor, Thomas Stelzer, said that if there is no nationwide lockdown, the region will enter “a lockdown of several weeks from next week,” reported Die Presse.

The Salzburg region has also agreed to join these measures, announcing in a statement that they were needed “in view of the continuing sharp rise in new corona infections.”

“We no longer see any alternative to a lockdown,” Salzburg Governor Wilfried Haslauer, who like Stelzer is a member of the conservative Austrian People’s Party, was quoted as saying in Die Presse.

A broadcast press conference is scheduled for this afternoon.

Since Monday, the whole of Austria has been in a controversial two-tiered lockdown, with only unvaccinated people restricted to leaving their home for limited reasons, such as buying essential groceries and going to work.

Upper Austria was the first region to impose this last week, but the whole country quickly followed suit as infections have surged to record levels.

The seven-day incidence rate in Upper Austria currently stands at 1,556 cases per 100,000 people, while in Salzburg it is 1,673 per 100,000.

Hospitals in the Salzburg region have begun preparations to triage patients as they face overwhelming numbers at their door. This means they will decide which patients will qualify for intensive care, and which will not, reported Welt.

Latest data shows that 64 percent of the total population in Austria has been vaccinated, lagging behind the EU average.

German surge

Meanwhile in neighboring Germany, where 67.5 percent of the total population is vaccinated, the country has been repeatedly breaking record case rates. On Thursday, it reported more than 65,000 new cases.

It comes as the Bundestag approved Thursday amendments to the Infection Protection Act, effectively changing the power of the federal government to impose measures after November 25, if it comes into force. Namely, it will no longer be able to order the closure of schools, shops, restaurants or sports facilities.

Hospitals in the eastern German state of Saxony meanwhile are hitting their critical limits. With 1,300 beds occupied by coronavirus patients for three days in a row, they have triggered new restrictions starting Friday, reported Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The state, which borders the Czech Republic, is feeling the brunt of the fourth coronavirus wave across Europe. The new measures extend so-called 2G restrictions — meaning that only the vaccinated and recovered are exempt — to hairdressers, gyms and discos.

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