Austria to enter national lockdown from Monday

Austria will go into a full national lockdown from Monday following an increase in COVID-19 cases, with sporting events set to go ahead without fans to limit the spread of the virus.

The Austrian Government announced yesterday (Thursday) that a state of lockdown would be put in place for unvaccinated citizens, and this has today been extended to the entire population.

The lockdown will come into effect on Monday and is set to be in place until December 12. Austria recorded 15,145 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, a new record.

Austria is also set to make vaccinations against COVID-19 mandatory from February 1 as it looks to stem rising cases. Only 66% of the Austrian population is vaccinated – the lowest rate in western Europe.

Following the announcement of the national lockdown, football’s Austrian Bundesliga has confirmed that matches in the top two divisions will go ahead as planned, albeit behind closed doors.

Bundesliga chief executive Christian Ebenbauer said: “It is regrettable that the current situation has meant massive restrictions everywhere. The Bundesliga competitions will therefore have to take place without fans in the stadiums in the coming weeks. 

“In line with its role model function, the Bundesliga has fully supported these measures since the beginning of the pandemic and we hope that the health situation in the country will improve as quickly as possible. In addition, games without spectators and thus without income are once again confronting the clubs with financial challenges. 

“In the first discussions with the ministries and also in the press conferences, however, necessary support has already been announced.”

The lockdown comes as Rapid Vienna prepares to host English club West Ham United in the UEFA Europa League next Thursday. The match is set to go ahead, but without fans.

The Austrian city of Innsbruck is also due to host matches in the Davis Cup tennis tournament from next week and there are currently no plans to cancel the event.

Germany could yet follow Austria by imposing a national lockdown of its own, with the country’s Health Minister Jens Spahn saying today that the government “can’t rule anything out”.

Image: Dan Visan on Unsplash