Austria has recently announced new restrictions in order to help curb the spread of coronavirus. According to the BBC, Austria has implemented a curfew from 8pm to 6am and has declared all cafes and restaurants to be takeaway only. Gyms and museums are also to shut down, along with elementary schools. However, retail stores, high schools, and colleges will be online.
On the closing, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, “we did not take this decision lightly but it is necessary,” during a news conference. The decision comes as daily cases in Austria rise, reaching 4,435 on Thursday, October 29, according to Reuters. Austria has a population of 9 million. On Friday, Austria recorded 5,627 infections. At 6,000 infections, the government claims that hospitals will be stretched beyond capacity.
A new lockdown is objectively the correct decision for Austria. With rising infection rates and a shortage of beds, only by preventing interactions can further spread of COVID-19 be stopped. However, this is not enough. Early and harsh lockdown restrictions have been shown to effectively shut down coronavirus in the past and are what succeeded in nearly defeating the disease in Europe earlier this year. Now that the disease is finding its footing in a second wave, Austria and the rest of Europe must repeat their earlier actions and definitively shut the country down rather than only partially doing so. Earlier this week, the nation stated that they wanted to “avoid an economically harmful second lockdown.” according to Reuters.
This blatant disregard for human life explains how the second wave has reached this point. While supporting the economy is important, there is no economy without people to support it, and a short shutdown in order to maintain those lives is not a sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. Any country that truly cared for its citizens would shut down for a month in order to make sure that those citizens survived rather than ensuring that the economy was temporarily successful. Stimulus checks and grants can be given to businesses and individuals who need it. Meanwhile, essential workers should be granted greater opportunities by that same government as thanks for their service during this terrifying time.
As for individuals sick of the pandemic and quarantine, this is not over. Obeying these lockdowns and doing as required will shorten their lengths, instead of breaking rules and making the world and pandemic worse in the long run. This is not a pandemic that will magically go away, but something that must be earned and slowly worked towards together. It is far too easy to give up on the important rules that are in place to protect us, but we must remember that is exactly why they are in place.
Austria is not the only European country currently facing rising infection rates. On Friday, France introduced measures as well, and on Saturday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a second, four-week-long lockdown in order to allow families to gather for Christmas. Slovakia is currently testing everyone over the age of 10, and COVID-19 patients are occupying over 16,000 beds in Poland. Meanwhile, Portugal is only restricting 121 of 308 communes in the country, requiring all citizens to stay at home for work, school, or essential errands. Greece has also announced a partial lockdown after seeing a steady increase since October, and Belgium has returned to a national lockdown after figures show the highest infection rate in Europe.
All of these countries must continue to put strong lockdowns into place in order to truly restrict the virus, placing the needs of the citizens above the needs of the government. Meanwhile, the citizens of those countries must closely follow those regulations as a means to effectively protect themselves and quickly end this pandemic so that we can all return to our new normal.
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