Bad news for our continental cousins: lockdowns are returning to various European countries.
The first one to announce a winter lockdown is Holland, where bars, restaurants and non-essential shops will be ordered to close at 7pm for at least three weeks starting tomorrow. The Telegraph has more.
People will be urged to work from home as much as possible, and no audiences will be allowed at sporting events in the coming weeks. Schools, theatres and cinemas would remain open.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s cabinet will take a final decision later on Friday, and will announce the new measures during a televised press conference scheduled for 6pm GMT.
New coronavirus infections in the country of 17.5 million have increased rapidly after social distancing measures were dropped late September and hit a record of around 16,300 in 24 hours on Thursday.
The new wave of infections has put pressure on hospitals throughout the country, forcing them to scale back regular care again to treat Covid patients.
To contain the outbreak, the government’s pandemic advisory panel on Thursday recommended imposing a partial lockdown and to limit entrance to public places to people who have been fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection.
A new lockdown would mean a drastic turn in policy for the Dutch government, which until last month thought that a relatively high vaccination rate would mean it could further ease measures towards the end of the year.
Worth reading in full.
Meanwhile, Austria is set to impose a lockdown on the unvaccinated. Forbes has more.
Due to record Covid case counts and crowded intensive care units, Austria is expecting to declare nationwide lockdown of unvaccinated people, in what would be the broadest restrictions that any country has yet placed on those who have opted not to get the jab.
A lockdown is “probably inevitable”, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said in a statement on Thursday.
It would follow an incremental government plan set in place in September, which states that a lockdown of unvaccinated Austrians must be implemented when 30% of ICU beds are occupied by Covid patients.
The current level is 20% and increasing fast, according to Reuters.
Unvaccinated people will not be allowed to leave their homes unless they are “going to work, shopping (for essentials), [or] stretching one’s legs”, Schallenberg said.
Upper Austria, the country’s third largest state, will begin a lockdown of the unvaccinated Monday, provided it receives legal confirmation from the Federal Government, Gov. Thomas Stelzer said in a statement.
Austria’s ministry of health says 65% of its population has been vaccinated as of Thursday, the second-lowest figure in Western Europe following the small country of Liechtenstein, according to Reuters.
Stop Press: As David Paton points out on Twitter, the experience of Ireland, which has had vaccine passports for months and never-ending mask laws, but soaring rates of infection, suggests Covid restrictions do nothing to suppress infection. But we’ve known that for some time!