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Nearby provinces follow Vienna in extending Easter lockdown: governor

FILE PHOTO: People walk down a shopping street, as the local Government discusses to close non-essential shops for several days over Easter due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Vienna, Austria March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

VIENNA (Reuters) - Two provinces that are introducing a coronavirus lockdown over Easter along with Vienna will follow the Austrian capital in extending their restrictions by five days until Sunday, April 11, the governor of one of them said on Wednesday.

Burgenland, which borders Hungary, along with Vienna and the province surrounding it, Lower Austria, announced their joint lockdown because their hospitals are approaching their full intensive-care capacity. They have high levels of the dangerous British coronavirus variant and infections are rising.

They initially said their joint lockdown would last from Thursday, April 1, until the following Tuesday, but experts said afterwards that would do little to relieve pressure on hospitals. Vienna decided to extend its lockdown on Tuesday.

“The provinces of Burgenland and Lower Austria will, like Vienna, maintain the coronavirus protection measures beyond the Easter weekend until April 11,” Burgenland’s Governor Hans Peter Doskozil said in a statement, adding that the move was agreed in a call with his counterpart from Lower Austria.

Austria has had three national coronavirus lockdowns, the latest of which was eased last month - all-day restrictions on movement became a nighttime curfew and non-essential shops were allowed to reopen.

In the three eastern provinces, that loosening will be reversed. Austria has nine provinces in total.

Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said on Tuesday that other provinces would have to follow Vienna but he did not say which ones. Infections are rising nationally and the leader of the opposition Social Democrats has called for a national lockdown.

Lockdowns have recently been decided jointly by the national government and the influential governors.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall