The governments of Austria and the Netherlands both reinstated coronavirus pandemic restrictions in their respective countries over the weekend, due to surges in active cases in recent weeks.
Austria restricts unvaccinated citizens
Austria has introduced anti-Covid lockdown measures for unvaccinated citizens, with restrictions coming into force at midnight last Sunday.
The unvaccinated, who constitute approximately two million of Austria’s 8.9 million population, will now only be permitted to leave their homes for reasons related to work, school, exercise and buying essential supplies.
The revived restrictions will remain in place for at least 10 days before being reviewed and apply to anyone over the age of 12 who has not been double vaccinated.
The restrictions do not currently apply to fully vaccinated individuals, however Austria’s Health Minister, Wolfgang Mückstein, has confirmed that further measures are currently being considered, including a 10pm night-time curfew for all regardless of vaccination status. A decision on further measures is expected to be made on Wednesday.
Low vaccination rates in Austria
Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, with only around 65 per cent of the total population being fully vaccinated. The country has also faced a significant rise in infections in recent weeks, with 11,552 new cases of coronavirus reported on Sunday, compared with just 8,554 new infections a week ago.
Covid-related deaths in the country have also risen in recent weeks, with 17 new deaths reported. Despite this, the death rate remains far lower than during the previous peak in cases, in which a record 218 covid-related deaths were reported in a single day on 17 December.
Dutch return to partial lockdown as Covid-19 cases soar
The Netherlands also reintroduced a partial Covid lockdown on 13 November, following a rapid surge in coronavirus cases in the country.
Supermarkets, restaurants and non-essential retailers have been ordered to close early, and cafes and nightclubs will also close at 8pm from Saturday. Spectators have also been barred from attending sporting events, including for the Dutch football team’s World Cup qualifier against Norway on Tuesday.
The government has also said that people should work from home wherever possible, and recommends inviting no more than four visitors into the home at any one time. Schools, theatres and cinemas however will remain open.
In a televised address in the Hague on Friday to announce the new measures, Rutte said the new restrictions would remain in place until at least 4 December, with the situation planned for review on 3 December.
During the address, a group of around 100 anti-lockdown protesters gathered outside the government building where Rutte was speaking, with several people being detained for setting off fireworks and throwing objects at police.
A surge despite high vaccination rates
The decision to restore some lockdown measures in the country was made in response to a surge in Covid cases, which are beginning to strain hospital capacity across the country.
New infections have reportedly topped 16,000 for the second day in a row, according to Reuters, beating the country’s previous record high of just under 13,000 confirmed cases in a day set in December 2020.
The rise in infections has occurred despite a high rate of vaccination among the Dutch population. Nearly 85 per cent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, out of a population of approximately 17.4 million people.