“It is a situation where we have to react now. The only way is with a lockdown, a relatively hard method, to lower the numbers with a wooden hammer,” Mueckstein told national broadcaster ORF on Sunday night.

Austrians savored one last mulled wine in packed Christmas markets before the curtain came down on the holiday season that was just getting underway, plunging the country that gave the world “Silent Night” into its fourth lockdown of this pandemic on Monday, AP reports.

The capital, Vienna, awoke groggily to the new restrictions, with people heading to work, to bring children to school or to exercise outdoors, more or less as usual.

This was not the draconian lockdown of the pandemic’s dawn in 2020, when movements were strictly monitored and discouraged. Police cars circulated, in keeping with government promises to step up controls, but no spot checks were being made.

“I am particularly annoyed by the lockdown,” said Georg Huber, a lawyer on his way to the office. “One should have done more research in, I don’t know, summer? One should have implemented a mandatory vaccination in the summer, when it turned out it would not be enough to hope that people get there without any coercion. I think the government just overslept.”

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