COVID-19: Greece and Austria among European countries to impose further measures

European countries imposed further measures in the fight against coronavirus on Tuesday, as the continent continues to battle a second wave of the virus.

Hours after a suspected terrorist attack hit Vienna on Monday, new restrictions were imposed in Austria, while a partial confinement began in Greece, and details of a new curfew are to be announced in Italy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen more than 46 million confirmed cases worldwide, and at least 1.2 million deaths.

Austria closes Christmas markets

Just hours after a terrorist attack hit the capital city, new confinement measures came into force in Austria on Tuesday.

Schools and nurseries will remain open in the country, but in Vienna, because of the attack, parents will be able to keep children at home, said mayor Michael Ludwig.

People are now not allowed out between 8pm and 6am and private meetings are limited to a maximum of two homes, said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Saturday.

In addition to the closure of museums, theatres, cinemas and swimming pools, all events are cancelled, including weddings and Christmas markets.

Austria fared better than many of its neighbours during the initial coronavirus outbreak in the spring, but it is now recording more than 5,000 daily cases, and has confirmed 1,109 deaths.

New confinement in Greece

Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, and the northern province of Serres, are now under a local lockdown, following a surge of cases.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas announced on Monday that residents in those zones can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to work, exercise or assist someone in need.

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They will have to send an SMS to authorities when they do so.

All retail stores will be shut, except food stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, but unlike in the spring, schools will remain open.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a nationwide curfew from midnight to 5am and made it compulsory to wear masks outdoors across the country.

Extra measures also come into effect in areas with significant outbreaks, including the capital Athens, on Tuesday morning.

Bars, restaurants, gyms, museums, theatres and cinemas will shut down, with restaurants allowed only to operate on a delivery or takeaway basis.

In Italy, details of a national night curfew are due to be announced on Tuesday, along with travel restrictions to areas now classified according to their health risk.

Italy has closed cinemas, theatres, sports halls and swimming pools for a week. Restaurants and bars can no longer receive customers after 6pm.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the holiday season, especially Christmas, would be reduced to limited family gatherings.

Germany “faces difficult months”, she observed, equating the pandemic with “an event that only happens once in a century”.

Restaurants, bars, cafés and all cultural and sports institutions have had to close their doors on Monday for the next four weeks, leading to some protests.

Belgium, the country with the highest rate of circulation of COVID-19, also entered a second six-week containment on Monday.

Working from home is compulsory wherever possible and non-essential shops are closed.

(euronews)

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