Austria has signed a strict Covid-19 vaccine mandate
Austria has signed a strict Covid-19 vaccine mandate

Austria has signed a strict Covid-19 vaccine mandate

Austria’s sweeping measures will potentially result in an initial fine of 600 euros (680 USD) for people without a vaccine certificate or exemption. Check to see if the mandate is met to start from March 15th.

Pregnant women and those who cannot be vaccinated without endangering their health are exempt from the law, according to the Austrian Ministry of Health website.

The exception also applies to individuals who have recently received Covid-19 and last 180 days from the date they received their first positive PCR Covid-19 test.

The new law will last until January 31, 2024 and may see unvaccinated people risk a maximum fine of 3,600 euros ($ 4,000) up to four times a year if they are not on a vaccine registry on their assigned vaccination date.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is pushing for a vaccine mandate as part of the country’s Covid-19 containment strategy, and a key vote on a potential vaccine mandate is expected in late March.

Both Germany and Austria have higher vaccination rates than the EU average of 70.4% with two jabs, according to data from European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. However, their immunization rates of 74% and 72.7%, respectively, have not allayed health authorities’ concerns.

Legislation has already been enacted requiring vaccines for healthcare professionals from March.

Germany has Europe’s second oldest population after Italy. On January 28, German health minister and epidemiologist Karl Lauterbach warned that the elderly population needed protection as many in these age groups remain unvaccinated.

There are four times as many unvaccinated Germans compared to the United Kingdom, and three times as many unvaccinated Germans compared to Italy, he added.

Lothar Wieler, head of the German Agency for Infectious Diseases, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), warned at the same press conference that hospitals and intensive care units are starting to fill up again when Covid-19 infections reached record highs.

On Friday, the country reported a record 248,838 new cases.

Vaccines and no restrictions

As some European countries get tough on mandates, others drop the Covid-19 rules despite an increase in cases driven by the Omicron variant.

Many of their leaders point out that vaccines break the link between infections and serious illness.

Denmark, where 81.5% of the population is double-jabbed, lifted all Covid-19 restrictions on Tuesday despite soaring cases.

“At the same time as the infections are skyrocketing, [the number of] patients admitted to intensive care [is] actually goes down, “says Søren Brostrøm, director general of the National Board of Health. told CNN. “There are about 30 people in intensive care units right now with a Covid-19 diagnosis, out of a population of 6 million.”

Other Nordic countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Finland, announced the repeal of many of their Covid controls this week, pointing to their highly vaccinated population groups and low hospitalization rates.

The Oxford Covid-19 Stringency Index is a composite measure based on nine response indicators, including school closures, workplace closures and travel bans.  Its scale goes from 0 (least stringed) to 100 (most stringed).  Many European nations are easing the restrictions in line with their high vaccine intake.

The decision was made in Norway based on the impact of the Omicron variant, said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stør on Tuesday, noting that the variant caused less serious illness, helped along the way by the country’s successful vaccination rollout.

Sweden, where only 70.4% of the population has received two shots, is set to remove most Covid-19 restrictions next week, officials said Thursday.

After initially failing to address the shutdowns favored by its European neighbors, Sweden eventually imposed restrictions on public life. The restrictions were most recently tightened in early January, when a curfew was introduced for Swedish bars and restaurants.

According to Thursday’s press release, Swedish officials have now assessed that the Covid-19 situation is “stable enough” to start easing the restrictions. This was justified by the fact that Omicron has not caused “as serious a disease as previous variants” and the country’s health system has not been seriously affected, it added.

CNN’s Joseph Ataman, Camille Knight Henrik Pettersson and Niamh Kennedy contributed to this report.

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