Vienna (Austria): Austrian authorities have decided to extend the third strict lockdown until February over a surge in COVID-19 incidence, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Sunday.
“We should inform you that it is necessary to extend the lockdown, including restrictions on leaving the house. Experts agree that before we can open up, the 7-day infection rate (per 100,000 residents) should be reduced to 50, and ideally to 25,” Kurz said at a press conference.
He clarified that for Austria this means about 700 new infection cases per day, adding that it is unclear whether reaching this figure on time is generally possible.
“We will be assessing the situation on a weekly basis, but our goal is to bring the 7-day incidence rate closer to 50 by February 8, and on February 8 to take the first steps to open up including trade and service sector that provides for close contact with a client [hairdressers, beauty salons] and museums,” Kurz said.
Since December 26, the country has been on a third strict lockdown, which was set to last until January 24.
The lockdown prescribes closure of everything except grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and service providers without close contact with a client. Restrictions on leaving the house without a valid reason are in effect around the clock.
Population’s fatigue from tough quarantine measures continues to grow. On Saturday, some 10,000 people took part in an anti-lockdown protest in Vienna.