Austria orders curfew and shuts restaurants to fight ‘exploding’ COVID

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria on Saturday announced a nighttime curfew and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants to all but take-away service as a surge in coronavirus infections threatens to overwhelm its hospitals.

The Alpine country had a swift and effective lockdown during its first wave of infections in March but had held off similar action this month to help the economy, even as daily cases rose to several times the spring peak.

With daily infections at a record 5,627 on Friday, however – just short of the 6,000 level at which the government says hospitals will no longer cope – the conservative-led government was forced to act.

“We did not take this decision lightly but it is necessary,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference. The restrictions include an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and will be in effect from Tuesday until the end of November.

Factories, shops, kindergartens and primary schools will remain open, however, while secondary schools and universities will switch to distance learning. Exercise or walks will still be allowed after curfew.

Restaurants, bars and cafes may provide a take-away service only; theatres and museums will shut, as will indoor sports facilities such as gyms; hotels will close to all but a few guests such as business travellers.

Businesses forced to close will receive aid amounting to 80% of their sales a year earlier.

NUMBERS ‘EXPLODING’

In the past two weeks, Austria had about as many cases as Britain or Italy, relative to its population, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows. And there has been a rapid acceleration over the past week, with a 26% jump from Thursday to Friday.

“A barely controllable increase has begun,” Health Minister Rudolf Anschober told the news conference, adding that infections were “de facto exploding”.

Austria’s measures closely resemble those being taken by neighbouring Germany, which has less than half its infection rate, according to the ECDC data.

Austria has already limited private indoor gatherings to six people and it is now adding a rule that no more than two households can meet.

“We can’t say how strongly the population will support these measures and how strong their effect will be,” Kurz said, adding that he aimed to start easing the restrictions gradually in December.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Ros Russell)

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Pakistan orders early closure of businesses

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities have ordered all businesses, including restaurants, wedding halls and markets, be closed after 10 p.m. to contain a coronavirus resurgence that began this month.



A health official from the district office wearing protective gear, walks near a banner showing a precaution against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)


© Provided by Associated Press
A health official from the district office wearing protective gear, walks near a banner showing a precaution against the coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)



An Indian family wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus bargain for a ride with an autorickshaw driver in Bengaluru, India, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. India's confirmed coronavirus caseload surpassed 8 million on Thursday with daily infections dipping to the lowest level this week, as concerns grew over a major Hindu festival season and winter setting in. India's trajectory is moving toward the worst-hit country, the United States, which has over 8.8 million cases. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)


© Provided by Associated Press
An Indian family wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus bargain for a ride with an autorickshaw driver in Bengaluru, India, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. India’s confirmed coronavirus caseload surpassed 8 million on Thursday with daily infections dipping to the lowest level this week, as concerns grew over a major Hindu festival season and winter setting in. India’s trajectory is moving toward the worst-hit country, the United States, which has over 8.8 million cases. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Also, authorities in the capital, Islamabad, asked police to arrest anyone violating social distancing rules by not wearing masks at public places.

The government Thursday reported some of its highest single-day totals, more than 900 new cases and 16 deaths. The numbers are almost double those reported some days last month.

Pakistan has reported 311,108 confirmed coronavirus infections, including 6,775 deaths.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— US data Thursday expected to show blowout economic growth in summer, but it’s already fading

— Biden is focusing on COVID-19, while Trump would rather talk about just about anything else

— US health officials are issuing insurance coverage rules anticipating COVID-19 vaccines

— On the road in Mississippi, AP finds a story of love in the time of coronavirus

— Australia’s pandemic travel ban brings family heartbreak and questions about how long it can be justified

Video: Dr. Patel on how the White House should be dealing with the virus outbreak: ‘This should go well beyond what’s standard’ (MSNBC)

Dr. Patel on how the White House should be dealing with the virus outbreak: ‘This should go well beyond what’s standard’

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— India’s cases surpass 8 million as concerns grow over Hindu festivals, winter and social distancing fatigue

— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

BEIJING — Officials in the northwestern China region of Xinjiang say they believe they have contained the country’s latest coronavirus outbreak.

Xinjiang reported 23 new confirmed cases Thursday, all involving people who had initially tested positive but displayed no symptoms. It was the second consecutive day in which newly confirmed cases emerged entirely among such people.

Officials say that development appears to show new infections have been curbed in Kashgar prefecture, where the outbreak appeared Saturday. They say all the cases seem to be linked to a garment factory that employs 252 people and has since being sealed off.

More than 4.7 million people in Kashgar have been tested for the virus.

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Officials in Anchorage,

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Some restaurants in Illinois are defying closure orders as ban on indoor service spreads to Chicago suburbs

Despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent order to shut down indoor service at bars and restaurants in northwest Illinois due to the coronavirus, Fozzy’s Bar and Grill near Rockford was among those that stayed open.



Nick Fosberg standing in front of a computer: Nick Fosberg, owner of Fozzy's Bar & Grill, speaks with customers on Oct. 20, 2020, in Loves Park, near Rockford. "We're sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it," he said. "We're getting a ton of support. I'm not closing."


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Nick Fosberg, owner of Fozzy’s Bar & Grill, speaks with customers on Oct. 20, 2020, in Loves Park, near Rockford. “We’re sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it,” he said. “We’re getting a ton of support. I’m not closing.”

Owner Nick Fosberg said he had to leave the doors open to keep his employees working, pay his bills and stay in business. He says the workers wear masks, and customers wear masks on their way in and out, while tables are spaced 6 feet apart, at 25% capacity.

“We’re sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it,” he said. “We’re getting a ton of support. People are happy someone finally stood up and said, ‘I’m not closing.’”

The Oct. 3 closure order covering the northwest region of Illinois has the same restrictions coming Friday to DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties. Four regions of the state have exceeded 8% rate for positive COVID tests, which is one of the state-imposed thresholds for such restrictions, and the rest are trending in that direction.



a car parked in front of a building: Two women enter Fozzy's Bar & Grill in Loves Park near Rockford.


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Two women enter Fozzy’s Bar & Grill in Loves Park near Rockford.

Now other restaurant owners are declaring they, too, will stay open. The Facebook page of Lockport Stagecoach in Will County, a western-style saloon, states that it will remain open for indoor dining and stand by more than 30 employees who depend on the restaurant for their livelihoods.

“We are NOT trying to be rebellious or are anti-masks, anti-people’s health or any of the other nonsense,” the post stated. “This is a decision out of survival.”

Ki’s Steak and Seafood in west suburban Glendale Heights also declared its independence from “DICTATOR PRITZKER.”

“We are standing up for our freedom and WE WILL STAY OPEN!” Ki’s Facebook page announced. “We have been in business for 80+ years and no one is going to tell us we can’t live out the American dream.”

In Winnebago County, where Rockford is located, the closure orders are prompting a showdown between local businesses and health officials. The local health department issued closure orders to Fozzy’s and to two other bar/restaurants in Loves Park, and issued more than 30 other orders warning businesses they weren’t following the coronavirus regulations.



a person sitting in a chair in a room: Jim McQuinn and his dog, Bella, hang out in the bar at Fozzy's Bar & Grill on Oct. 20, 2020 near Rockford. "I'm glad to be out socializing. It's my first time in a bar since January," McQuinn said.


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Jim McQuinn and his dog, Bella, hang out in the bar at Fozzy’s Bar & Grill on Oct. 20, 2020 near Rockford. “I’m glad to be out socializing. It’s my first time in a bar since January,” McQuinn said.

While no one source drove the recent rise in positivity rate in the region, county Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said, bars and restaurants were “disproportionately impacted.”

“It is extremely frustrating that

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Quebec fitness centre owners back down on threat to defy COVID-19 lockdown orders

An empty gym is seen in Montreal, on Oct. 26, 2020.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

A group of Quebec fitness centre owners says its members are no longer planning to open Thursday in defiance of the government’s lockdown orders.

The owners released a statement today calling on their clients to instead join them in a series of protests outside their gyms and fitness studios on Thursday.

On Monday, a coalition of more than 250 gym owners threatened to open their doors this week, prompting a warning from Premier Francois Legault that they and their clients would be fined.

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This week Legault extended lockdown orders across regions under the government’s highest pandemic-alert levels – including Montreal and Quebec City – from Oct. 28 to Nov. 23.

Bars, restaurant dining areas, gyms and entertainment venues have been ordered to close.

The gym owners say their protests on Thursday will conform to the provincial COVID-19 health regulations.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Countries around the world are working on a coronavirus vaccine, including right here in Canada. Globe and Mail science reporter Ivan Semeniuk discussed the timeline and challenges in developing COVID-19 vaccines during a facebook live. The Globe and Mail

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Idaho governor orders return to some COVID-19 restrictions

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday ordered a return to some restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus as intertwined health care systems across the state showed early signs of buckling.

The Republican governor returned the state to stage 3 of his four-stage reopening plan and said indoor gatherings will be limited to 50 people or fewer, and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 25% of capacity.

“Idaho is at a critical juncture,” Little declared during the Statehouse news conference with a heavy police presence as protestors could be heard shouting in the hallway. “This is unacceptable and we must do more.”


Little, who wears a mask in public and encourages others to do so also, didn’t order a statewide mask mandate, something many health care professionals have sought. But many residents in red-state Idaho oppose such a mandate.

State officials continue reporting surging infections daily, with 650 more on Sunday for a total approaching 60,000 along with 573 deaths.

The state’s positivity test rate is fourth-worst in the nation, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

The restrictions announced Monday also include a mask mandate for all long-term care facilities and physical distancing for gatherings of all types. Employers should continue allowing teleworking for at-risk workers or make special accommodations in the workplace.

St. Luke’s, with hospitals in southwestern and central Idaho, is reporting that 20% of hospitalized patients are suffering from COVID-19. Its hospital in Twin Falls is postponing elective surgeries and sending children in need of medical care to Boise. On Monday, St. Luke’s told people to stop coming to its emergency rooms for COVID-19 testing.

Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs for St. Luke’s Magic Valley and Jerome, said the surge of patients in that area is approaching a level the hospital might not be able to handle, meaning deciding who gets treatment.

“That’s not good for our staff, having to decide who lives and dies, and it’s not good for the patients,” he said. “The natural outcome of not controlling the virus will be unnecessary deaths.”

State epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said some hospitals are in what’s called a contingency stage, one step below moving into a crisis stage that could lead to the scenario described by Kern.

Primary Health Medical Group, the largest independent medical group in Idaho, has had to close two of its 19 urgent care clinics in southwestern Idaho because of sick or quarantined staff. The clinics are a buffer keeping hospital emergency rooms in the region from getting clogged with patients not needing emergency-level care.

“This surge, this disease today, right now is out of control,” said Dr. David Peterman, a pediatrician and the CEO of Primary Health Medical Group.

The group reports that the positivity rate is up to nearly 7% among 5- to 12- year-olds, and nearly 11% for teenagers. Peterman said it’s not clear if a return to school for teenagers is causing a surge of infections in local communities or

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Sri Lanka orders more curfews over virus cluster

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka have closed the country’s main fish market and widened the curfew in many parts of the island nation following a surge of coronavirus infections related to a new cluster centered on a garment factory.

The government imposed a curfew Thursday in parts of Colombo and some areas outside the capital. Officials already isolated at least six villages elsewhere in the same province, where the new cluster was discovered early this month.

Authorities also suspended operations at Sri Lanka’s main fish market after 49 traders tested positive. Health workers are conducting tests on hundreds of other traders at the market on the outskirts of Colombo.


Schools and key public offices are also closed, public gatherings banned and restrictions imposed on public transport.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Spain reaches 1 million cases of coronavirus

— North Dakota Republican governor calls National Guard to help with test results

— CDC redefines coronavirus close contact, adds brief encounters

— Next up in hunt for COVID-19 vaccine: Testing shots in kids. Pfizer received permission last week to test its vaccine in U.S. kids as young as 12.

— Boston schools will switch to all-remote learning in response to rising coronavirus cases in the city.

— Brazil President overrules own health minister, rejecting purchase of 46 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine tested in Sao Paulo state.

___

Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has 121 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, its first triple-digit daily jump in a week amid concerns about the country easing social distancing restrictions just last week to cope with a weak economy.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Thursday that South Korea’s caseload is now at 25,543 for the pandemic, including 453 deaths.

Hundreds of recent infections have been tied to hospitals in major cities such as Seoul and Busan. Officials are testing 130,000 workers at hospitals, nursing homes and senior facilities in the Seoul metropolitan area hoping to reduce outbreaks.

South Korea has enforced its lowest level of social distancing measures since Oct. 13, allowing high-risk businesses and karaoke bars to reopen and fans to return to professional sports.

MEXICO CITY — Mexican health officials estimated Wednesday that the country has risen above 1 million coronavirus cases, though the figure includes both confirmed infections as well as suspected cases.

Officials put the country’s apparent deaths from COVID-19 at 102,293, again including cases in which patients were not tested for the virus.

The Health Department says its pandemic caseload tally has reached 1,005,938. That includes people who have displayed symptoms of COVID-19 but were not given tests or whose samples could not be processed. Test-confirmed cases total 867,559.

The agency attributes 102,293 deaths to the pandemic, adding in deceased patients who weren’t tested but had symptoms judged to be caused by COVID-19. Test-confirmed deaths

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Mississippi gov. orders mask use in 9 counties

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says he is imposing a mask mandate for public indoor spaces and other restrictions in nine of the state’s counties to curb the spread of the coronavirus after weeks of steadily rising case numbers.

Reeves notes that Mississippi saw a spike in cases during the summer. He says: “We know what can happen if we allow this to get out of control, so want to be proactive to prevent that from happening.”

The governor adds that he does not think what is happening in Mississippi qualifies as a spike, saying that “we’ve seen a relatively slow, slight increase over the last six weeks.”


In the past week, Mississippi has had two days when the daily number of new cases reached more than 1,000. That hadn’t happened since mid-August.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide top 40 million but experts say that’s only the tip of the iceberg

— Coronavirus vaccines will require non-stop refrigeration to stay potent and safe, which may leave 3 billion people without access to them

— India reports lowest daily virus death toll in three months; Belgium and Slovakia slap night-time curfews on residents to control virus spread.

— To avoid the economic hit of full lockdowns, some places are trying more targeted restrictions

— Congress is past the point of being able to deliver more coronavirus relief before the Nov. 3 election

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico Tech has temporarily shut down out of caution against COVID-19 after officials learned of several off-campus weekend parties.

In announcing the school’s closing on Monday, University President Stephen Wells said on the school’s website that 50 to 100 students gathered over the weekend at multiple parties in the area surrounding the Socorro campus. Wells says extreme measures are needed due to “the irresponsibility of a few.”

State health officials on Monday reported an additional 518 confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the statewide total to more than 37,300 since the pandemic began.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association is renewing the group’s call for a statewide mask mandate as the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus has reached record levels.

Association President George Monks says in a tweet that cities in Oklahoma that have adopted mask ordinances have seen lower rates of infection. He says that “we need face mask mandates to protect more of our Oklahoma citizens.”

The association has been calling for a statewide mask mandate since the summer, but Gov. Kevin Stitt has repeatedly said he has no plans to do so, citing concerns about how such a mandate would be enforced.

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OWOSSO, Mich. — A lawyer says misdemeanor charges are being dropped against a Michigan barber who defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and reopened his shop last spring during the coronavirus pandemic.

David Kallman said

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Montco Had 4 Percent Of PA’s Protection From Abuse Orders In 2019

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA — Montgomery County had one of the largest percentages of protection from abuse orders granted in Pennsylvania in 2019.

That’s according to newly released statistics from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, which analyzed nearly 40,000 different petitions. PFAs are civil orders issued by the state to protect victims or potential victims of domestic violence, usually from a partner or family member.

>>Domestic Violence Rises In Montco: Where To Turn If You Need Help

Montgomery County trailed only Philadelphia (22 percent), Allegheny (9 percent), and Delaware (5 percent) in the largest share of PFAs issued in 2019.

The latest statistics come as Montgomery County sees a rise in domestic violence cases in 2020 since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Isolation and quarantine have exacerbated underlying issues and caused increased stress in many cases, officials say. In the early months of the outbreak, cases of reported domestic violence increased by 9 percent in the county.

There’s also been a rise in relationship-related homicides in the county in 2020. They account for nine of 2020’s 14 homicides, per the District Attorney’s Office.

The county kept the courts working through the pandemic so that residents could continue to file PFAs.

PFAs can require that a domestic abuser have no contact with the victim or children. They can also order the abuser to leave the home where the abuse is taking place, or pay fines related to the abuse.

Statewide, the total number of PFAs filed increased to 39,132 in 2019. It’s a number that’s trickled steadily upwards since 2015, when 37,563 orders were filed.

There are numerous other resources available for victims in Montgomery County:

Laurel House

  • Open 24/7

  • Provides immediate, safe shelter for victims and children of victims

  • Provides counseling via Telehealth

  • Call 800-642-3150

  • Website

Women’s Center of Montgomery County

  • Open 24/7

  • Partners with law enforcement to provide counseling, relocation assistance, help with protection from abuse orders, and other advocacy to victims

  • Call 800-773-2424

  • Website

Victim Services Center

  • Open 24/7

  • Offers crisis counseling, medical exam support, help with protection from abuse orders, and more

  • Provides counseling via Telehealth

  • Call 888-521-0983

  • Website

Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center

  • Mental health treatment, resource referrals, medical care

  • Trauma therapy offered through Telehealth

  • Open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

  • Call 484-687-2990

  • Website

This article originally appeared on the Norristown Patch

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