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Covid cases rising, Austria plans 3-week lockdown beginning Tuesday

VIENNA — Austria is planning to move from its current nighttime curfew and partial shutdown to a full lockdown from Tuesday until Sunday, Dec. 6, inclusive, a draft and summary of the government decree seen by Reuters showed on Saturday.

A summary and draft of a government decree obtained by Reuters showed the country would switch to a full lockdown as of Tuesday, with the public required to stay at home all day with only some exceptions such as for shopping or exercise.

The Austrian government had so far used a lighter touch in dealing with the second wave of coronavirus cases than the first. A nighttime curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. this month but shops are open; cafes, bars and restaurants are limited to takeaway service; theaters and museums are closed.

Those measures have failed to stop infections from accelerating. Daily new cases hit a record of 9,586 on Friday, nine times higher than at the first wave’s peak.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz previously said that hospitals would be stretched thin once the country hit 6,000 daily new infections.

Nonessential shops will close, as will service providers such as hairdressers. Secondary schools have already switched to distance learning, but schools for younger ages that are still open will do the same while providing childcare when necessary.

People should work from home where possible and if employer and employee can agree on the modalities, the draft said.

Kurz is due to hold a news conference on Saturday outlining the new restrictions.

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