Austria extends third Covid-19 lockdown to Feb 8

Police patroling in the city centre of Vienna on New Year's Eve, on Dec 31, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

VIENNA (REUTERS) - Austria will extend its Covid-19 lockdown, with the goal to start easing restrictions from Feb 8, the government said on Sunday (Jan 17).

The catering sector and tourism will not be able to reopen in February, it added.

Austria, a country of 8.9 million people, is in its third lockdown, with only essential shops open.

The country has reported nearly 390,000 coronavirus cases and almost 7,000 Covid-19-linked deaths since the pandemic began last year.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference he was aware the restrictions were unpopular, but the government had to act given the spread of new virus mutations that made Covid-19 more transmissible.

He was speaking a day after thousands marched in Vienna to protest against the restrictions on public life.

The government said people should work from home where possible, must stay at least 2m away from others, and had to wear FFP2 masks in stores and on public transport.

The government said it wants to get new infections to below 700 per day.

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