Austria Puts the Unvaccinated on Lockdown

As Austria faces a surge in Covid cases, the Austrian government has placed around two million people age 12 and older who have not been fully vaccinated on lockdown. “We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately it is necessary,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said. The government introduced the new measure on Monday as a means to curb the spread of the virus. 

Unvaccinated people are barred from visiting restaurants, hairdressers, and cinemas. They are expected to stay at home. They will only be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, such as working or buying food or groceries. Polices will carry out spot checks in public spaces to determine the vaccination status of individuals and fine the rule-breakers. Austria’s health ministry says anyone who violates the lockdown for the unvaccinated could be fined €500 (£426; $572), while a penalty of €1,450 could be incurred for refusing to participate in checks.

About 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated and it is somehow one of the lowest rates in Western Europe where cases are rising in the region. Meanwhile, the seven-day infection rate is more than 800 cases per 100,000 people, which is one of the highest in the region.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people protested outside the chancellery in the capital, Vienna, waving banners that said, “Our bodies, our freedom to decide”.

One female protester said she was demonstrating “to fight for my rights”. “It is totally discriminatory what is happening here,” she said. However, Prof Eva Schernhammer from the Medical University of Vienna said the measures were needed, warning that hospital intensive care units were filling up. “It’s already projected that within two weeks we’ll have reached the limit,” she said.

With the new measure implemented, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said, “That is a massive reduction in contacts between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated”.


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