Austria will go right into a nationwide lockdown on Monday and impose a coronavirus vaccination mandate in February, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg mentioned on Friday. It’s the first such lockdown in a European nation because the spring, and the primary nationwide vaccine mandate on the continent.
“No one needs a lockdown — the lockdown is the final resort, a crude instrument,” Well being Minister Wolfgang Mückstein mentioned. “A lockdown is at all times an imposition, however it’s the most dependable instrument we have now to interrupt this fourth wave.”
The measures, harking back to those who European nations put in place earlier than Covid vaccines had been obtainable, comply with different current restrictions which have executed little to decrease the speed of an infection.
In an indication of hovering fear over the newest outbreak, Austria simply days in the past went a step additional than most nations by saying a lockdown on unvaccinated individuals. Requiring individuals to be vaccinated towards Covid beginning on Feb. 1 broke new floor once more.
“For a very long time, the political consensus has been that we don’t need obligatory vaccinations on this nation,” Mr. Schallenberg mentioned when saying the brand new measures. “However we have now to face actuality.”
Austria has one among Europe’s highest nationwide an infection charges — with 14,212 new coronavirus instances registered in 24 hours on Thursday — and one of many lowest vaccination charges in Western Europe. Simply 66 p.c of the nation’s inhabitants is totally inoculated.
Below the brand new lockdown, most elements of public life can be suspended for no less than 10 days. The measure will have an effect on each vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
Folks can be allowed to depart their houses just for important functions comparable to purchasing for groceries, going to work or getting a primary stage of train. Solely supermarkets and shops promoting necessities can be allowed to stay open.
The lockdown for unvaccinated individuals will stay in place after the complete lockdown expires, Mr. Schallenberg mentioned.