Austria orders curfew, restaurant closures to fight COVID surge
Austria on Saturday announced a nighttime curfew and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants to all but take-away service as coronavirus infections approach what the government says is an unsustainable level for its hospital system, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The country had a swift, comprehensive and effective lockdown during its first wave of infections in March but had held off similar action even as daily cases rose to several times the spring peak. Bars, restaurants and theatres have remained open in a bid to help economic growth.
But with daily infections having surged to more than 5,600 on Friday - a new record just short of the 6,000 level at which the government says hospitals will be stretched beyond capacity - the conservative-led government was forced to act.
“We did not take this decision lightly but it is necessary,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference, announcing the measures that will take effect from Tuesday and last until the end of November, including a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m..
The measures fall short of a general lockdown, with shops, industry, kindergartens and primary schools remaining open. Secondary schools and universities will switch to distance learning, Kurz said.
“Gastronomy” businesses - a term that generally comprises restaurants, bars and cafes - will only be allowed to provide a take-away service and theatres will shut. Hotels will close to all but business travellers, Kurz said.