Despite protests in Austria lockdown decision was taken again
In Australia, it has been decided that people should work at home and non-essential shops will be closed from midnight.
The arrival of new restrictions sparked protests across Europe. In the Netherlands and Belgium, people clashed with the police over Covid restrictions.
Last week, Austria became the first European country to make the Covid vaccine a legal obligation, with the law that will come into effect in February. Politicians in neighboring Germany are discussing similar measures as the number of cases hit new records.
WHO regional director Dr Hans Kluge told the BBC that there could be more than half a million deaths by next spring if Covid measures are not taken for vaccines, masks and venues across Europe.
Protests and tension
Several European countries saw angry protests against tougher restrictions turn violent over the weekend.
In Belgium’s capital, Brussels, demonstrators clashed with police after tens of thousands of people marched through the city centre.
Protesters are mainly opposed to Covid passes that stop the unvaccinated from entering cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues.
The march started peacefully but some launched stones and fireworks at officers, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Across the border in the Netherlands, rioting took place for the third night in a row.
Local media report that police arrested 15 people in the southern city of Roosendaal where a primary school was set ablaze. An emergency order has also been imposed in the town of Enschede to keep people off the streets overnight.
On Saturday, people hurled fireworks at police and set fire to bicycles in The Hague. That followed what Rotterdam’s mayor called “an orgy of violence” on Friday, when officers opened fire after protesters threw rocks and fireworks and set police cars ablaze.
Four people thought to have been hit by police bullets remain in hospital, authorities said on Sunday.
The Netherlands is under a three-week nationwide partial lockdown, forcing restaurants to shut earlier and banning fans at sports events.
Protesters are also angry at a ban on fireworks on New Year’s Eve and government plans to introduce a vaccine pass for indoor venues.
Thousands of demonstrators were also on the streets in Croatia’s capital Zagreb on Saturday, while in Denmark around 1,000 people protested in Copenhagen against government plans to order public sector workers to be vaccinated in order to enter workplaces.
The French Caribbean department of Guadeloupe, meanwhile, has been rocked by three days of looting and vandalism, over a mandatory vaccine order for health workers as well as high fuel prices.
Some 38 people were reportedly arrested and special police forces were sent to the island on Sunday in a bid to quell the unrest after protesters ransacked and torched shops.