Empty streets as Austria enters fourth lockdown

In the alpine city of Salzburg, the streets are empty once again.

As of Monday (November 22), Austria has begun its fourth national lockdown.

It is the first country in Western Europe to reimpose the drastic and unpopular measure this autumn, in the face of surging coronavirus infections and struggling intensive care capacity.

Announced on Friday (November 19), the lockdown means Austrians will only be allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons.

Hospitality and entertainment venues will close, alongside all non-essential shops.

Workplaces and schools will remain open, but parents have been asked to keep their children at home if possible.

Christmas markets, a huge draw for tourists that had only just begun to open, must also close but, in a last-minute change, Austrian ski lifts can remain open to the vaccinated.

The measures will be in place for 10 days initially, but are expected to last up to 20.

In Vienna locals described how they felt about the change in restrictions.

"It feels like a luxury prison. That's what it's like. It is definitely a limitation of freedom. Personally, I don't feel very good psychologically. (REPORTER: Really?) Sure. How can you just sit around and do nothing? It doesn't work."

"I think it's a pity we have another lockdown but that's a part of it. Infection numbers are rising and I think that's a good solution. One day it will all be over and everything will be fine again."

From February 1, Austria will also make vaccination mandatory. It currently has one of the lowest rates in Western Europe, with only two thirds of people double vaccinated.

Austria’s Health Minister said the decision to reintroduce lockdown measures was like “taking a sledgehammer” to the virus.

Over the weekend, protests erupted in the capital Vienna over the measures.

Tens of thousands of people, many far-right supporters, took to the streets brandishing national flags and banners reading "Freedom."

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