Austria imposes COVID-19 lockdown that only applies to unvaccinated. – Community News
Covid-19

Austria imposes COVID-19 lockdown that only applies to unvaccinated.

From Monday, everyone in Austria who is 12 years or older and has not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to be confined to their home. The move comes as the country faces a record rise in infections that is putting pressure on hospitals. At a time when Europe has once again become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, Austria is experiencing one of the highest infection rates on the continent. It also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe, as only about 65 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

This move makes Austria appear to be one of the first countries to impose a strict national lockdown on unvaccinated individuals. It was part of a plan outlined in September that said those who have not been vaccinated would be forced to stay at home once 30 percent of ICU beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients. “We are not taking this step lightly, but it is necessary,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said. The measure will initially apply for 10 days. When the government announced the new restrictions, a crowd gathered in Vienna to protest the measures.

Many Austrians are skeptical of vaccines, a position propagated by the far-right Freedom Party, the third largest in parliament. But that skepticism turns out to be increasingly expensive. The unvaccinated have already been banned from many public places, including restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues and hairdressers. Now those who have not been vaccinated will have to stay at home except for a few limited reasons, such as going to work or shopping for essential goods. Those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 are exempt.

Law enforcement officers will sample those on the streets, but many have expressed doubts that there can be any form of proper enforcement of the rules. But officials have said anyone violating the lockdown could face a fine of up to 1,450 euros ($1,660). “From tomorrow, every citizen, every person living in Austria, should be aware that they can be checked by the police,” Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said at a news conference.

Austria’s lockdown plan may be new, but it’s not the only European country to impose mobility restrictions during a COVID-19 wave. The Netherlands imposed a three-week partial lockdown on Friday. Germany has also said new measures could be taken amid a rise in the number of cases, as Berlin unveiled new restrictions on unvaccinated people.