'All of Germany Is One Big Outbreak'

Country may join Austria in announcing full nationwide lockdown
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2021 7:20 AM CST
Austria Announces Full Nationwide Lockdown
People gather on the shopping street Marienhilfer Strasse in Vienna, Austria, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.   (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

Days after ordering a lockdown for the unvaccinated, the government of Austria has extended it to the vaccinated as well. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg says a full nationwide lockdown will begin Monday and last for a maximum of 20 days, the BBC reports. Under the European Union's first nationwide lockdown since last winter, nonessential retail stores will be closed and people will be asked to work from home. Health authorities say schools will remain open but parents should keep their children home if possible. More:

  • Nationwide vaccine mandate. Schallenberg also announced that vaccinations will be mandatory nationwide as of Feb. 1, 2022. He said it was a move the government had hoped to avoid, but the country currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe because of "too many political forces, flimsy vaccination opponents, and fake news."

  • Germany isn't ruling out lockdown. In Germany, which has a higher vaccination rate but is also dealing with a huge surge in cases, health minister Jens Spahn said Friday that the situation is so serious that a new nationwide lockdown isn't being ruled out, the Guardian reports. Authorities warned earlier this week that the country is headed for a "very bad Christmas season" if strict measures aren't taken.
  • "All of Germany is one big outbreak." The head of Germany's disease control agency described the situation Friday as a "nationwide" emergency and said that with hospitals filling up, it is time to pull the "emergency brake," the AP reports. "All of Germany is one big outbreak," said Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute.

  • Worrying signs elsewhere in Europe. COVID cases are surging in many other European countries, including Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia, where new infections are at record-breaking levels. The New York Times reports that Europe's difficulties reflect the "painful reality" that high levels of vaccination "have not been enough to prevent a surge of infections as winter sets in and more people remain indoors."
  • US is "in the zone of denial." Eric Topol, executive vice-president of Scripps Research, warns that the US is "in the zone of denial." He says the US is likely to face a winter surge unless it heeds the warning from Europe and "pulls out all the stops" to increase vaccination rates and fight misinformation. "We are miles from any semblance of COVID containment, facing winter and the increased reliance of being indoors with inadequate ventilation and air filtration, along with the imminent holiday gatherings," Topol writes at the Guardian.
(More COVID-19 stories.)

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