Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday
Austria imposes nationwide COVID-19 lockdown for unvaccinated people
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In Europe, Austria took what its leader called the "dramatic" step Monday of implementing a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people who haven't recently had COVID-19.
The move, which took effect at midnight, prohibits people 12 years old and up who haven't been vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19 from leaving their homes except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping, going for a walk — or getting vaccinated.
The lockdown is initially being imposed until Nov. 24 in the country of 8.9 million. It doesn't apply to children under 12 because they cannot yet officially get vaccinated — though the capital, Vienna, on Monday opened up vaccinations for under-12s as part of a pilot, and reported high demand.
Officials have said that police patrols will be stepped up and unvaccinated people can be fined up to €1,450 (roughly $2,080 Cdn) if they violate the lockdown.
"We really didn't take this step lightly and I don't think it should be talked down," Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told Oe1 radio. "This is a dramatic step — about two million people in this country are affected ... what we are trying is precisely to reduce contact between the unvaccinated and vaccinated to a minimum, and also contact between the unvaccinated."
"My aim is very clearly to get the unvaccinated to get themselves vaccinated and not to lock down the vaccinated," Schallenberg added. "In the long term, the way out of this vicious circle we are in — and it is a vicious circle, we are stumbling from wave to lockdown, and that can't carry on ad infinitum — is only vaccination."
About 65 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, a rate that Schallenberg has described as "shamefully low." All students at schools, whether vaccinated or not, are now required to take three COVID-19 tests per week, at least one of them a PCR test.
Herbert Kickl , the leader of the far-right opposition Freedom Party, vowed to combat the new restrictions by "all parliamentary and legal means we have available." Kickl said that "two million people are being practically imprisoned without having done anything wrong."
On Monday, Kickl announced on Facebook that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and must self-isolate for 14 days, so he won't be able to attend a protest in Vienna planned for Saturday.
Authorities are concerned about rising infections and increasing pressure on hospitals. Austria on Sunday recorded 849.2 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days.
Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein told ORF television that he wants to discuss further coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, and said one proposal is limits on going out at night that would also apply to the vaccinated.
But Schallenberg sounded more cautious.
"Of course I don't rule out sharpening" the measures, he said, but he indicated that he doesn't expect restrictions on bars and nightclubs at present.
What's happening across Canada
- Alberta now requires vaccine record with QR code for passport program.
- Doctor warns Saskatchewan not 'out of the woods' despite declining cases.
- Doctors Manitoba raises alarm about surgery backlogs as cases rise.
- Ontario long-term care staff must now have 1st vaccine dose to attend work.
- Quebec judge rules against health-care workers on vaccine mandates.
- Outbreaks declared at 7 First Nations in N.B. since Friday.
- P.E.I. announces new case, potential exposure sites.
- N.S. logs 99 new infections over the weekend.
- N.L. reports province's 17th coronavirus death.
What's happening around the world
As of early Monday, more than 253.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The online database showed more than 5.1 million reported deaths.
In the Americas, Cuba reopened schools and its borders to international tourism on Monday.
In Africa, a ban on public sector employees entering their offices if they are unvaccinated and untested for COVID-19 took effect in Egypt on Monday, as the government pushes to accelerate vaccination rates in the final weeks of the year.
In Asia, Singapore will allow vaccinated arrivals from five more countries, including Indonesia and India, to access the country without quarantine via its travel lanes from Nov. 29, its transport minister said.
With files from Reuters and CBC News