Austria tightens lockdown, extends it to Feb. 7

BERLIN — Austria is extending its lockdown until Feb. 7 in an attempt to bring down still-high infection figures, as authorities worry about the possible impact of more infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Sunday that distancing rules will be toughened, with people asked to stay 2 meters apart instead of 1 meter. They will also be told to wear full protective masks in public transport and shops, rather than just fabric face coverings.

Austria’s current lockdown, its third, started on Dec. 26 and had been due to end on Jan. 24.

Kurz said Austria needs to get as close as it can to an infection level of 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over 7 days. The figure now stands at 131.

He said the plan is to reopen shops. schools and other services such as hairdressers on Feb. 8. But he said it won’t be possible to reopen restaurants and hotels in February. (AP)