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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Christmas brings back strict corona restrictions

By: V4 Agency

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz expects a third corona wave and a further increase in infection numbers in the first half of next year, he told ORF, Austria’s largest media provider, in an interview on Saturday. After a temporary easing of restrictions, the Austrian government will reintroduce the stricter pandemic measures from the second day of Christmas.

The first quarter of 2021 will be an “extreme challenge” for the continent with a third corona wave approaching Europe, which can potentially lead to a massive increase in infection numbers in many EU states, Sebastian Kurz told ORF, adding that only warmer temperatures and and the increasing number of those already inoculated could result in the relaxation of rules.

The chancellor told ORF that, after facing plenty of criticism regarding Austria’s restrictive measures, he thought the measures imposed by the government may have been too harsh, but the official stats appear to corroborate the government’s policies, he added.

“We knew that we’ll be in for a tough autumn and winter, which will drag on for a few more months after 31 December”, Chancellor Kurz warned. He told Kronen Zeitung on Friday that, just like after the gruesome years of war, they needed people’s optimism and hard work again, because “we have some tough months ahead”: He added, however, that these tough months “will be followed by good years.”

Austria’s third, rather strict nationwide lockdown takes effect today, on 26 December. Shops, restaurants and cultural institutions will stay closed and strict curfews are being reintroduced by the government, with no easing expected even on New Year’s Eve.

The measures will be in force until 4 January, when  parliament reconvenes to decide whether to extend them by another two weeks, until 18 January. Mass testing is slated to begin before that date.

Inbound travel restrictions affecting entries to Austria have been in place since 19 December, and almost everyone entering the country until 18 January will be placed under a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

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