World Dutch impose new tighter lockdown amid spiking infections
Austria Will Force Entire Population to Get Vaccine, First European Country to Do So
The measure comes days after the country rolled out COVID-19 restrictions for the unvaccinated.Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced during a press conference Friday that from February 1, 2022, it would be a "requirement to get vaccinated" against COVID-19.
AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Netherlands moved into a tougher lockdown Sunday that was announced amid spiking infections even before the country recorded its first confirmed cases of the new, more highly transmissible omicron virus variant.
Bars, restaurants, nonessential stores, cinemas and theaters were among the public places forced to shut from 5 p.m. until 5 a.m. under the new lockdown.
Austrians enjoy final day before impending lockdown
VIENNA (AP) — Austrians were enjoying a last day out in coffeehouses and at Christmas markets Sunday before the government imposes a nationwide lockdown to combat a growing fourth wave of coronavirus infections. The measures, which take effect Monday and are expected to last for a maximum of 20 days but will be reevaluated after 10, require people to stay home apart from basic reasons like getting groceries, going to the doctor and exercising. © Provided by Associated Press People sit at an outdoor cafe on a street decorated with Christmas lights in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.
Wilko Klippens, who runs the Biessels cafe on the Grote Markt square in the city of Nijmegen, said the latest lockdown will further eat into his savings.
“We’re going to keep all the staff. You know, they’re going to pay their rent, pay their education. So yeah, it’s on us," he said. "So the money we saved for retirement is the money we pay the staff with and the rent.”
The restrictions took effect hours after Health Minister Hugo de Jonge announced that at least 13 travelers who arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Friday tested positive for the new variant. He urged other travelers who arrived last week from southern Africa to get tested as well.
Tens of thousands march against Belgium's COVID measures
BRUSSELS (AP) — Ten of thousands of people marched through central Brussels on Sunday to protest against reinforced COVID-19 measures that the government has imposed to counter the latest spike in coronavirus cases. Many in the huge demonstration that police estimated at 35,000 people also protested against the strong advice to get vaccinated and any moves to impose mandatory shots. Shouting “Freedom, freedom, freedom,” and singing the anti-fascist song “Bella Ciao,” protesters lined up behind a huge banner saying “Together for Freedom." Amid the crowd, signs varied from far-right insignia to the rainbow coalition flags of the LGBT community.
“We have appealed to everyone ... who has been in southern Africa in the past week to report to the local health authority ... to make a separate test appointment,” he said.
The Netherlands has seen a string of record daily infections in recent weeks and an earlier partial lockdown appears to have had little effect. Dutch hospitals have warned that intensive care units could become overwhelmed by the end of the week. The Dutch government has mandated that all nonessential surgeries, such as hip replacements, be postponed to free up ICU beds for COVID-19 patients.
De Jonge said he could not rule out imposing more restrictions leading up to Christmas.
Austria back under COVID lockdown amid angry protests across Europe
New restrictions to control the coronavirus, including a looming vaccine mandate in Austria, have sparked large protests across the continent, including some that have turned violent.About 50,000 people came out to protest over the weekend against the country's 4th coronavirus lockdown and an accompanying national vaccine mandate that will kick in from February. Some 40,000 demonstrators gathered for a rally, organized by the far-right Freedom Party, in the capital city of Vienna alone.
Wilma van Kampen said she would adhere to the lockdown and hoped that the situation does not deteriorate.
“I’m a nurse. I know how sick people get. I see a lot of people suffering from COVID,” she said.
Earlier Sunday, a heavy police presence massed in the eastern city of Nijmegen ahead of a banned protest against coronavirus measures. Police said they arrested or turned away multiple people during checks on roads leading into the city.
Just over a week ago, a coronavirus protest in the port city of Rotterdam degenerated into violence that prompted police to open fire on rioters who threw rocks and fireworks at officers, vandalized police cars and set fires in the city's streets.
In Nijmegen on Sunday, Monique van Aken said she doesn't expect this lockdown to be the last.
“I think it’s going to be happening all the time. It’s going to mutate, and we have to be prepared for that," she said. "After this variant, new variants will come.”
Europe's Christmas markets warily open as COVID cases rise
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The holiday tree is towering over the main square in this central German city, the chestnuts and sugared almonds are roasted, and kids are clambering aboard the merry-go-round just like they did before the pandemic. But a surge in coronavirus infections has left an uneasy feeling hanging over Frankfurt's Christmas market. To savor a mug of mulled wine — a pleasurable rite of winter in pre-pandemic times — masked customers must pass through a one-way entrance to a fenced-off wine hut, stopping at the hand sanitizer station.
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Dutch set to announce findings on Omicron cases among S.Africa travellers .
Dutch set to announce findings on Omicron cases among S.Africa travellersThe Netherlands' Institute for Health (RIVM) said on Saturday it believes that the new variant is present in at least some of the positive cases found among some 600 passengers who were tested on arrival from two flights from South Africa on Friday.