Austria decrees national lockdown to stem 2nd wave of Covid-19

Vienna, Nov 14 (efe-epa).- Austria’s government on Saturday announced a national lockdown on social and commercial activity in a bid to stem spiraling cases of Covid-19.

The measures will run from Tuesday until at least 6 December, Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s chancellor, said at a news conference.

A night-time curfew currently in vigor will be extended to encompass the entire day, meaning that teaching in nurseries, schools and universities will have to be done remotely.

All non-essential shops and services, such as hairdressers, will have to close for three weeks while supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and post offices will be permitted to stay open.

Daily records of new coronavirus cases have been tumbling in the Alpine nation in recent weeks. Restrictions introduced on 3 November have yet to have a bite out of the growing infection rate.

Health authorities detected 9,600 new Covid-19 cases on Friday and last week’s average was around 7,000 per day.

The country’s seven-day incidence rate stood at around 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The government aims to reduce that five-fold.

“If we do not take action, there is a risk that infections will continue to rise or remain too high,” Kurz said.

“Our goal is to reopen commerce and schools from 7 December,” he added.

The measures announced Saturday also urge all companies to let employees work from home where possible.

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