Austria tightens lockdown, extends it to February 7

Berlin, January 17

Austria is extending its lockdown until February 7 in an attempt to bring down still-high infection figures, as authorities worry about the possible impact of more infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Sunday that distancing rules will be toughened, with people asked to stay 2 metres apart instead of 1 metre. They will also be told to wear full protective masks in public transport and shops, rather than just fabric face coverings.

Austria’s current lockdown, its third, started on December 26 and had been due to end on January 24.

Kurz said Austria needs to get as close as it can to an infection level of 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over 7 days. The figure now stands at 131.

He said the plan is to reopen shops, schools and other services such as hairdressers on February 8. But he said it won’t be possible to reopen restaurants and hotels in February. — AP

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