EU Covid crisis: Austria declared ‘high risk’ as Netherlands prepares to lockdown

NHS worker clashes with host over coronavirus vaccinations

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A short lockdown could be introduced by the Dutch government, although a decision has not yet been made. Faced with a rise in infections, the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) advising the Dutch government is recommending authorities impose a lockdown, Dutch news agency ANP reported today.

The lockdown would see cinemas and theatres close their doors as well as events cancelled,  according to Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Medical experts also suggested adjusting bar and restaurant opening times and curbs on group sizes. Schools would remain open.

Over the past month, the Netherlands has seen a rising infection rate with the number of coronavirus patients treated in Dutch hospitals rising to 1,699 on Thursday.

If the government decides not to follow the OMT advice, its experts fear longer-term measures will have to be reinstated, according to NOS.

Details could be revealed at a press conference this evening with speculation the Netherlands could once again be plunged into a winter lockdown.

The country’s Health Minister Hugo de Jonge insisted this week that no decisions had been made and the government was awaiting the OMT advice.

But the website reports sources in The Hague confirming Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Mr de Jonge will announce a three-week lockdown this evening.

It would come into effect at 7pm on Saturday and lift on December 4, says.

Following the lockdown, the OMT has advised bringing in restrictions for unvaccinated people. A similar approach already operates in Germany.


However, some OMT members said previously they did not see any value in introducing rules solely for the unvaccinated.

Mr De Jonge dismissed the idea  at a press conference last week.

Meanwhile, the leader of Austria, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, is reported to have warned his country that millions of people who not been vaccinated against COVID could be confined.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn confirmed Austria is to be regarded a high-risk area for the virus from November 14.

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The country is facing an “unprecedented” surge in infections with its health system under pressure, according to Belgian daily Le Soir.

Data shows 65 percent of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against COVID, which is one of the lowest vaccination rates among Western European countries.

A plan agreed by the government in September calls for containment measures for unvaccinated patients if a 30 percent threshold for COVID-19 bed occupancy is broken. The current level is 20 percent and growing rapidly, Le Soir reports.

“We are days away from having to implement a lockdown for unvaccinated people,” Mr Schallenberg said.

The conservative government recently banned unvaccinated people from restaurants and theatres.

For now, a proposal to introduce regional restrictions, which would apply only to unvaccinated people in Austria, has been rejected.

Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein proposed the measure on Wednesday, but the heads of two Austrian provinces disagreed.

Salzburg provincial governor Wilfried Haslauer said: “I’m a bit sceptical about it.”

The conservative politician pointed out that unvaccinated people are no longer allowed into pubs, events and sports venues anyway. 

Mr Schallenberg did not rule out the idea of tightening the rules.

He warned if the situation continues as it is, then there will be a lockdown for people who have not been vaccinated where they can only leave their house for certain reasons.

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