Austria will extend its third lockdown at least until February 8 due to the variant of the coronavirus initially spotted in Britain, which is gaining ground, the government said on Sunday, as discontent increases.
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“Our goal is to reopen shops, services and museums on February 8,” instead of January 25 as initially planned, said Conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
“For schools, it also means a return to class in small groups” from that date, he added to reporters.
This central European country had decided to confine itself a third time after Christmas and the government had previously announced a return of schoolchildren to class before the end of January.
But it still records around 130 contaminations per day per 100,000 inhabitants and has set itself the goal of reducing this figure to 50 “in order to avoid an explosion of contaminations, as in Ireland and Great Britain”, said the chancellor. .
In addition, Austria has decided to impose from January 25 a social distance of two meters between each person in public places, instead of one meter until now.
Wearing FFP2 masks will also become compulsory in stores and on public transport.
The government is not planning to reopen restaurants and hotels until early March at the earliest and is pushing employees to work from home.
On Saturday, the vice-rector of the University of Medicine of Vienna rebelled against the support provided by schools which, if they are prohibited from providing education, are authorized to provide day care.
“Telework must be made compulsory so that parents can take care of children at home,” Oswald Wagner said.
But the president of the Austrian trade union confederation Wolfgang Katzian replied that “all those who think that we can juggle between childcare, home schooling and cooking live outside reality, without doubt about the moon ”.
According to a study, according to the different levels, students have only attended class between 20% and 33% of teaching time, since the first confinement on March 16.
70% of Austrians are calling for establishments to reopen, according to a recent survey.
At least 10,000 opponents of government measures met in Vienna on Saturday to demand the resignation of Sebastian Kurz and challenge his policy of containing the pandemic.