Austria angers many with full lockdown and Germany might comply with go well with By Reuters


© Reuters. During the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), people wait in front of a vaccination bus because the Austrian government imposed a ban on people who were not fully vaccinated on November 18, 2021 in Vienna. REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger


By Francois Murphy and Paul Carrel

VIENNA / BERLIN (Reuters) – Austria will be the first country in Western Europe to again impose a full COVID-19 lockdown, it said on Friday as neighboring Germany warned it could catch up and send shivers through the financial markets that are turning Worry about the economic consequences.

A fourth wave of infections plunged Germany, Europe’s largest economy, into a national emergency, said Health Minister Jens Spahn, warning that vaccinations alone will not reduce the number of cases.

Austria said in addition to the lockdown, the entire population must be vaccinated from February 1. Both decisions enraged many in a country where there is great skepticism about government mandates that affect individual freedoms, encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third largest in parliament.

Party leader Herbert Kickl posted a picture on Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 with the inscription: “As of today, Austria is a dictatorship.”

The party is planning a protest on Saturday, but Kickl is unable to attend because it has tested positive for COVID-19.

Around two-thirds of those entitled in Austria are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. With an incidence of 991 per 100,000 population over seven days, the infections are among the highest in Europe.

“We haven’t been able to convince enough people to get vaccinated,” said Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg at a press conference and said the lockdown would begin on Monday and that the vaccination would be mandatory on February 1st.

“It hurts that such measures have yet to be taken.”

When asked whether Germany could rule out a complete lockdown based on the Austrian model, Spahn said: “We are now in a situation – even if this generates a news warning – in which we cannot rule out anything.

“We are in a national emergency,” he said at a press conference.

European stocks fell from record highs while government bond yields, oil prices and the euro plummeted as the specter of another COVID-related lockdown in Germany and other parts of Europe cast a new shadow over the global economy.

“We expect targeted measures (against COVID-19) in some countries, depending mainly on the health situation, but other factors, such as the domestic political situation, will be relevant,” analysts at Oxford Economics said in a note.

“And even if it may take a while before political consensus is reached in other countries, it is clear that the tide has turned.”

(For the interactive COVID tracker from Reuters, click in the external browser window on


As cases rise again, a number of European governments have started to curtail their activities again, from a complete lockdown in Austria to a partial lockdown in the Netherlands to restrictions on unvaccinated people in parts of Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Whether or not countries choose to re-lock depends on a variety of factors, including local vaccination rates, mask requirements, and the extent to which booster vaccinations are made available.

Germany has announced that further measures will be decided depending on when the hospitalization rates reach certain thresholds. In France, President Emmanuel Macron has made it clear that he believes that a high level of vaccination should be enough to avoid future lockdowns.

The UK, with higher numbers of infections than most countries in Europe, is introducing third vaccinations – or boosters – to offset the dwindling protection of the first two and keep the economy open.

While the new measures across Europe won’t hit the economy as badly as last year’s sweeping lockdowns, analysts say they could weigh on the rebound in the final quarter of the year, especially if they hurt the retail and hospitality sectors more by Christmas.

However, a complete lockdown in Germany would be more serious.

“A total lockdown for Germany would be extremely bad news for the economic recovery,” said Ludovic Colin, Senior Portfolio Manager at Swiss asset manager Vontobel.

“This is exactly what we saw in July, August of this year in parts of the world where the delta (variant) was large, it (COVID-19) came back and the recovery slowed down again.”

The pressure on the intensive care units in Germany has not yet reached its peak, said Spahn and urged people to reduce contacts in order to break the wave. “How Christmas will be, I don’t dare say. I can only say it’s up to us,” he added.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday large parts of the public life in areas where hospitals are dangerously full of COVID-19 patients for those who are either vaccinated or have recovered from the disease.

Merkel also said the federal government would consider a request from the regions for a law requiring them to vaccinate nursing and hospital staff.

Saxony, the region most severely affected by Germany’s fourth wave, is considering closing theaters, concert halls and football stadiums, reported the mass newspaper Bild. The eastern federal state has the lowest vaccination rate in Germany.

In Saxony, a bastion of the right-wing extremist party Alternative for Germany, which is home to many vaccine skeptics and anti-lockdown demonstrators, the number of new infections every day rose 14 times over the past month.

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