Covid: Can Scotland avoid an Austria-style lockdown as cases rise in Europe?

A wave of new Covid-19 related restrictions has swept across Europe as cases rise and pressure on over-stretched health services continues.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 4:45 pm

The most drastic of these is a full lockdown imposed across Austria from Monday, with non-essential shops closed, most children sent home from school and adults asked to work from home.

Vaccination is also set to become a legal requirement in Austria from February.

In Germany officials have set out restrictions for unvaccinated people in areas of high Covid hospitalisations, while in the state of Bavaria bars and clubs will be closed for three weeks, and Christmas markets will be cancelled.

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A deserted cafe in Vienna after a temporary lockdown was imposed in Austria. Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images

The French government is considering further restrictions, with a press conference due on Thursday.

Italy is set to further expand its vaccine passport, limiting access to cinemas, theatres, gyms, nightclubs, ski lifts and indoor hospitality.

Ireland will also extend its vaccine passport scheme, along with a midnight curfew for hospitality.

But is Scotland at risk of similar measures or a winter lockdown?

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Scottish Government ministers have repeatedly said they would consider expanding the Covid vaccine passport scheme to further venues.

Nicola Sturgeon announced this week that as yet this step has not been taken, but added that it is still on the table should the situation deteriorate.

A winter lockdown has not been ruled out either, although there has been no sign that this has so far been considered.

While in the past Scotland has had some of the highest rates of Covid in Europe, the situation at the moment is considerably better than many other countries.

In terms of cases, the 14 day case rate per 100,000 people in the UK is around 800, according to the World Health Organisation, compared to above 2,000 in Austria and Slovenia.

Germany has a similar rate, around 750, while in France it is lower, at 300. But in both countries this rate is growing significantly, almost double that of the previous 14 day period, while in Scotland it is more or less stable.

In terms of vaccination, Scotland is also significantly better off than some other European countries.

More than 80 per cent of Scots have received two vaccine doses, compared to below 70 per cent in Austria.

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