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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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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Rand Paul suggests restaurants should hire COVID survivors as servers during pandemic

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that he would like restaurants hire more staff that have previously contracted the coronavirus, according to The Daily Beast.



Rand Paul wearing a suit and tie: Rand Paul suggests restaurants should hire COVID survivors as servers during pandemic


© Greg Nash
Rand Paul suggests restaurants should hire COVID survivors as servers during pandemic

During a rally for Nick Freitas, a Republican candidate for Congress, in central Virginia on Sunday, Paul suggested to a crowd that he would make the call himself if he had a restaurant.

“If I owned a restaurant, I’d have a whole wing for senior citizens or for anybody who is worried about getting sick, and I would say, all my servers have already had it,” Paul told the crowd, according to The Daily Beast. “If I had a cruise ship… everybody would have had the infection that works on the boat.”

Paul also referred to his previous coronavirus diagnosis during the rally, saying that once you’ve had it you are immune.

Video: Pence on campaign trail despite COVID positive staff as cases surge across country (MSNBC)

Pence on campaign trail despite COVID positive staff as cases surge across country

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“I’ve had it. I can’t get it again,” Paul said, according to The Daily Beast. “I can’t give it to you and I can’t get it.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance contradicting Paul’s stance. People are not immune to reinfection to the coronavirus after recovering from the disease, according to the CDC.

Paul contracted COVID-19 in March. He has publically maintained that those who have had the virus do not need a facemask.

“I’m not telling you not to wear a mask,” Paul reiterated at the rally, according to The Daily Beast. “The cloth masks … I’m just telling you the truth, they don’t work. Ninety-seven percent of viruses go through a cloth mask.”

The CDC released guidance in August that stated wearing a mask is more sure to protect against the coronavirus than taking a vaccine.

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Advocates, restaurants call for extension of meals program

BERLIN, Vt. (AP) — Advocates for a program that uses federal coronavirus relief money to distribute free restaurant-made meals intended for people in need during the pandemic and to help those eateries stay afloat are calling for the program to be funded past mid-December.

The statewide Everyone Eats program offers restaurants financial support to cook healthy meals for the community, said Sue Minter, executive director of Capstone Community Action on Thursday.

In three months, $1.5 million has been allocated to the industry, allowing over 100 restaurants to prepare 150,000 meals distributed around the state — but the funding ends in December, she said at a press event at Central Vermont Medical Center, where 200 meals are given out weekly.


“Seven months into the pandemic hunger in Vermont is increasing,” Minter said. “And the impact of unemployment and the unfolding economic disruption is intensifying. And Vermonters are rising to the challenge together.”

One in four Vermonters now face food insecurity, compared to one in 10 before March, she said.

The pandemic has also had a dramatic impact on the state’s hospitality industry, particularly restaurants, which are now “on life support,” she said.

Cornerstone Pub & Kitchen, in Barre, provides 200 free meals each Thursday through the program, said owner Rich McSheffrey.

“I can’t stress enough the significance of it, I can’t stress enough the impact of it, and I definitely will say that if this program has any possibility of extending then it’s definitely in the best interest,” he said.

He believes ending the program in the winter is senseless, he said.

“It seems very stressful to me to think that so many people with food insecurities and so many people that are hungry are going to have a program stopped in Vermont in the winter,” he said.

In other developments related to the coronavirus on Thursday:

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UTILITY BILLS

Less than half of an $8 million COVID-19 pandemic relief program for people and small businesses behind on their utility bills has been used, and the state is encouraging those eligible to apply.

The Vermont COVID-19 Arrearage Assistance Program can help with past-due bills to keep the lights on, water flowing, and heat running as winter approaches.

“We only have six weeks left to essentially spend the full $8 million,” Riley Allen, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service told MyChamplainValley.com on Wednesday.

Allen estimates that the total amount of unpaid bills in the state is much larger than what’s been awarded so far, the station reported.

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COLLEGE CASES

St. Michael’s College in Colchester is going to all remote classes after six positive cases of the coronavirus were detected in the latest round of surveillance testing. All the cases were asymptomatic.

In a message posted Thursday on the college’s website, college President Lorraine Sterritt said that, out of an abundance of caution, the school would move to all-remote classes and all in-person activities are suspended through the weekend. Dining will be takeout-only.

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THE NUMBERS

Vermont reported 15

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Alameda County Moves Up Timeline To Reopen Restaurants And More

ALAMEDA COUNTY, CA — Alameda County will allow restaurants, worship houses, theaters, indoor retail and malls to serve customers indoors beginning Friday, with safety restrictions.

The following services will be able to take place indoors as of Friday:

  • restaurants (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)

  • worship houses (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)

  • theaters (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)

  • indoor retail and malls (half-capacity and with limited food court services)

  • gyms and fitness centers (25 percent capacity; no indoor pools allowed)

  • weddings and funerals (25 percent capacity or 100 people; whichever is less)

The county will also allow outdoor non-contact fitness classes of up to 20 people, including the instructor.

County health officials announced that Alameda County will come into alignment with the state’s new guidance on gatherings, which says people may engage in outdoor gatherings with a stable group of up to three households. People of different households must stay six feet from each other and wear face coverings when not eating or drinking.

Stable and decreased case, positivity and hospitalization rates prompted the county to enact the changes and reopen more sectors earlier than previously scheduled, officials said Wednesday in a news release.

“A few days should have little impact on local disease conditions,” said Alameda County Public Health Department spokesperson Neetu Balram in an email.

The news is welcome to restaurant owners such as Todd Utikal of Pleasanton’s SideTrack Bar + Grill, who has lost business due to high wait times to seat customers outdoors. Now, he’ll be able to seat another 35 people at his restaurant.

“We’re totally ready,” he said.

The move comes a week after the county moved into the orange tier, which indicates a moderate COVID-19 risk level. This is the second-best tier on the state’s four-tiered, color-coded risk system.

The state will allow restaurants in orange-tier counties to serve customers indoors at half-capacity or up to 200 people — whichever is fewer — but counties can always enact stricter restrictions. Red-tier counties may allow indoor dining at 25 percent capacity or up to 100 people; whichever is fewer.

Alameda County once more declined to allow indoor dining after its move into the orange tier, but announced that on Oct. 26, it would allow indoor reopenings of certain indoor services under red tier-level restrictions.

Restaurant owners were pleased to hear that the county moved up the deadline to allow indoor dining on a Friday instead of Monday, which allows them to benefit from business over the weekend, said Utikal.

Utikal is part of the Tri-Valley Restaurant Group, a cohort of more than 80 restaurant owners in Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore that was formed during the pandemic.

Restaurant owners are confident that this will be a good thing, partly because they’ve had the benefit of watching restaurants in other counties reopen first, Utikal said. Restaurants are hiring back staff in preparation for Friday’s reopenings.

Though restaurants will be limited in the number

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Sausage Casings Market | Rapidly Proliferating Quick Food Restaurants to Boost Market Growth

The global sausage casings market size is poised to grow by USD 417.63 million during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of almost 3% throughout the forecast period, according to the latest report by Technavio. The report offers an up-to-date analysis regarding the current market scenario, latest trends and drivers, and the overall market environment. The report also provides the market impact and new opportunities created due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Download a Free Sample of REPORT with COVID-19 Crisis and Recovery Analysis.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201016005148/en/

Technavio has announced its latest market research report titled Global Sausage Casings Market 2020-2024 (Graphic: Business Wire)

The expanding urban population and changing lifestyles of consumers has increased the preference for fast foods across the world. This has resulted in a rise in the number of quick-service restaurants, including fast-food and fast-casual restaurants. Most of these restaurants use sausages to serve a variety of fast food items such as sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, and pizzas. Therefore, the proliferation of quick food restaurants will foster the growth of the global sausage casings market during the forecast period.

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Report Highlights:

  • The major sausage casings market growth came from the artificial sausage casings segment. This is due to the various benefits of artificial casings over natural casings such as easy handling, availability in uniform size and shape, resistance to breakage, and others.

  • APAC was the largest market for sausage casings in 2019, and the region will offer several growth opportunities to market vendors during the forecast period. This is attributed to the increasing production and consumption of meat and meat products in the region.

  • The global sausage casings market is fragmented. AGROKOM GROUP LLC, Danish Crown AS, Darling Ingredients Inc., Devro Plc, Kalle GmbH, Shenguan Holdings (Group) Ltd., Viscofan SA, Viskase Companies Inc., ViskoTeepak Holding Ab Ltd., and Weschenfelder Direct Ltd. are some of the major market participants. To help clients improve their market position, this sausage casings market forecast report provides a detailed analysis of the market leaders.

  • As the business impact of COVID-19 spreads, the sausage casings market 2020-2024 is expected to have positive impact. As the pandemic spreads in some regions and plateaus in other regions, we continue to revaluate the impact on businesses and update our report forecasts.

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Increasing household consumption of processed meat will be a key market trend

Increasing urbanization coupled with modern workstyle patterns has reduced the time available for cooking. This has increased the consumption of convenient foods such as processed meat in the form of sausages, which are easy to cook. Also, there is an increased demand for processed food items that are tasty, low-cost, and easy to prepare. All these factors are expected to

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Belgium imposes Covid curfew, closes bars and restaurants

Belgium will tighten coronavirus restrictions from Monday in an effort to hold the disease in check

The measures are set to enter force from Monday. The curfew will be enforced from midnight until 5:00 a.m. Alcohol sales will be banned after 8:00 p.m. The number of people that Belgians should see socially outside family members will be reduced from three to a maximum of just one — all month.

People have been ordered to work from home wherever possible.

Belgium, which has a population of around 11.5 million, is one of the European countries hardest hit by the disease. Almost 6,000 new cases were recorded each day on average over the last week. In all, about 192,000 people have contracted the disease and 10,327 have died.

“The number of confirmed cases is rising, every day, and not just by a few percentage points,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told reporters in Brussels as he unveiled the new restrictions. “We can see that our hospitals and medical services are under tremendous pressure.”

“Thirty-five people died yesterday from the effects of COVID-19,” De Croo said, and he warned that the number of cases is likely to keep rising this week and next. “In the days to come, the news will be bad,” he said.

The country’s finance and employment ministries will launch a support plan to help keep restaurants and cafes afloat. They’ve been struggling to get back on their feet in recent months due to the impact of the virus. Earlier this month, bars and cafes in the capital Brussels were ordered to close early.

The impact of the closures will be reviewed in two weeks.

Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s COVID-19 crisis center, said earlier Friday that “new measures are needed, because we see all the figures, all the data, mounting and all the indicators … remain in the red.”

Almost 2,000 people are currently in hospital due to the virus, more than 300 of them in intensive care. Around 180 are being admitted every day, on average.

Van Laethem urged people not to hit bars and night spots or gather in large groups for a final party.

He warned of the impact of such acts after Belgium first went into confinement in mid-March, saying that “this kind of behavior led to the infection spreading and quite a few people found themselves in hospital. So, please, avoid this kind of stupid behavior.”

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

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