Austria Toughens Lockdown Until Dec. 6 as Soft Measures Fail

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Austria will shut down schools, most stores and services such as hairdressers starting Tuesday, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, after attempts to rely on self-discipline and moderate restrictions failed to slow the coronavirus pandemic.

The new measures cometwo weeks after a soft lockdown similar to Germany’s was imposed that left large parts of the economy and society open. With Austria’s infections spiking, Kurz said he hoped to end the latest measures on Dec. 6 to allow some sort of Christmas celebrations.

“Don’t meet anybody,” Kurz said at a news conference from the chancellery in Vienna on Saturday. “Every social contact is one too many.”

According to Kurz, the tighter rules include:

  • People may leave their homes only for certain purposes including grocery shopping or other daily needs, to visit or support relatives, go to work, or to make urgent visits to court or official buildings or to be out for a walk or for sport.
    • These restrictions, which were applicable only at night until now, will apply round the clock under the new plan.

    The government’s slow reaction to the rapid rise of infections is in contrast to March, when his government acted quickly and assertively and was among the first European nations to reverse the wave.

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