Covid: Austria in lockdown while Australia relaxes border ruleson November 22, 2021 at 7:30 am

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday morning.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Monday morning. We’ll have another update for you this evening.

Austria has returned to a full national lockdown – as protests against new Covid-19 restrictions spread across Europe. From midnight, Austrians have been asked to work from home and non-essential shops have closed. Last week, Austria became the first European country to indicate it would make Covid vaccination a legal requirement, with the law due to take effect in February. In the Belgian capital, Brussels, demonstrators clashed with police after tens of thousands of people marched through the city centre. In the Netherlands, rioting erupted for the third night in a row.

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Australia is to relax the rules for certain foreign groups entering the country. Skilled migrants and international students, as well as Japanese and South Korean citizens, will be among those allowed entry from 1 December. All must be fully vaccinated. Australia has implemented some of the world’s tightest border controls since March last year, including on its own citizens. Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Monday’s announcement an “important step forward”.

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Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said there is no evidence that vaccine passports do anything to stop the spread of Covid-19. The Scottish government will decide on Tuesday if the scheme – which came into effect in Scotland last month for nightclubs and large events – will be extended to other settings. Mr Ross spoke to BBC Scotland on Sunday – watch his comments below.

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Stormont ministers will meet later to discuss proposals to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland. On Thursday, Health Minister Robin Swann advised anyone who worked from home when the pandemic began to do so again. Last week, the Department of Health warned that unless cases decrease significantly in the next three weeks, then more “severe” restrictions could be required before Christmas.

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“I was on maternity leave and stuck in lockdown, so, for me, it really provided a way to ease my anxiety, keep busy and feel a sense of achievement,” says Alice Smith, 34, who spent almost four months locked down in Sydney, Australia earlier this year. If 2020 was the year of baking banana bread and sourdough, then for many like Alice, 2021 was the year of knitting and crafts.

Alice Smith and her baby Freddie

Image source, Alice Smith

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You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page. From today, over-40s in the UK are being invited for their booster jabs – read our explainer here.

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Image source, BBC

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