Austria will enter a nationwide lockdown from Monday, and Germany may consider a similar move as Europe grapples with a brutal surge in the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re in a situation in which we shouldn’t rule anything out,” German Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday when asked whether another lockdown was possible.
The comments came almost simultaneously with Austria’s announcement that it will impose a nationwide lockdown for at least 20 days starting on Monday. The country will require residents to inoculate against Covid from February in one of the most stringent vaccine requirements in the region.
“There are too many among us who haven’t shown solidarity,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said. “Raising the vaccination rate is the only way to break this vicious circle.”
Austria’s moves are the most drastic yet by a Western European country to confront the current virus wave. A record spike in Covid cases threatens to overwhelm the health systems in Austria. Germany is close to similar strains as intensive-care wards fill up.
“The whole of Germany is one big outbreak,” Lothar Wieler, the head of Germany’s RKI public-health institute, said Friday at the news conference with Spahn. “This is a national emergency.”
European stocks pared gains after the news, with the Stoxx 600 Index trading 0.1% higher after being up as much as 0.4% earlier. A gauge for the travel and leisure sector dropped 0.9%. Deutsche Lufthansa AG was down 3.3%.