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COVID in Europe: Austrian vaccination law comes into effect while Danes enjoy eased measures

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A new law making vaccination against COVID-19 compulsory for all residents above 18 years of age has come into effect in Austria.

This unprecedented move from an EU member state means that anyone not abiding by the new law may face a hefty fine from Saturday. Checks are expected to start from mid-March.

Around 72% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated — a figure below other European countries, like France, Portugal or Spain.

Michael Hausmann, head of operations at Samariterbund, a Vienna-based aid organisation, says that his centre is now currently “vaccinating about 7000 people a day on average”. Hausmann added that they had a slight increase of about 9% compared to last week.

The Finnish capital Oslo has been gripped by protests over COVID-19 restrictions and rising fuel prices. The demonstrations that started on Friday rolled into Saturday and traffic was blocked for several hours in front of the state parliament.

Fifty-five protesters have been detained so far. Organisers say they intend on using civil disobedience tactics.

In Russia, the federal response centre has reported 177,282 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, increasing from 168,201 the day before.

Moscow logged 22,444 new COVID-19 cases and 82 deaths during the same period.

The Omicron variant is being blamed for the sharp spike in new infections that has been taking place for weeks in Europe’s most populous country.

According to Valery Vechorko, chief physician at the Moscow Filatov hospital, his facility admitted 250 patients just in the past day. 80 to 85% of them have been infected with the Omicron variant, Vechorko said.

Meanwhile, Denmark is having its first weekend without COVID-19 restrictions. Neither facemasks nor COVID-19 passes are required, and nightlife could kick off again.

For 21 months, the country’s nightlife had been shut down, and owners and customers of various venues are enjoying the new freedom again, with clubs, bars, and restaurants reported to be working at full capacity.

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