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Austria planning three-week lockdown from Tuesday, draft decree shows

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Austria is planning to move from its current night-time curfew and partial shutdown to a full lockdown from Tuesday until Sunday Dec. 6 inclusive, a draft and summary of the government decree seen by Reuters showed on Saturday.

The Austrian government had so far used a lighter touch in dealing with the second wave of coronavirus cases than the first. A nighttime curfew is in place from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. this month but shops are open; cafes, bars and restaurants are limited to take-away service; theatres and museums are closed.

Those measures have failed to stop infections from accelerating. Daily new cases hit a record of 9,586 on Friday, nine times higher than at the first wave’s peak.

A summary and draft of a government decree obtained by Reuters showed the country would switch to a full lockdown as of Tuesday, with the public required to stay at home all day with only some exceptions such as for shopping or exercise.

Non-essential shops will close, as will service providers such as hairdressers. Secondary schools have already switched to distance learning, but schools for younger ages that are still open will do the same while providing childcare when necessary.

People should work from home where possible and if employer and employee can agree on the modalities, the draft said.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is due to hold a news conference outlining the new restrictions at 4:30 p.m. (1530 GMT).

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