Austria will enter another nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and will make vaccination compulsory from February, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday, becoming one of the few countries in the world to take the drastic step to mandate shots as it struggles to boost stagnant vaccination rates and contain record levels of Covid-19.
Austria’s newl lockdown starts Monday, Schallenberg said, and will last a maximum of 20 days.
Austria is the first European country to reimpose a full national lockdown since spring and the move comes days after a targeted lockdown on unvaccinated people.
Vaccination against Covid-19 will also be compulsory from February 1, Schallenberg said, making Austria one of the only countries in the world and the first in Europe to introduce a national mandate.
Schallenberg said the country has “to face reality,” acknowledging that recent measures have been insufficient to boost vaccination rates amid the country’s sky-high coronavirus rates.
The lockdown for the unvaccinated will remain in place after the broader national lockdown ends, Schallenberg said.
Austria has some of the highest Covid-19 case rates and lowest vaccination rates in Europe. Despite a ready availability of safe and effective vaccines, around two-thirds of the population is fully vaccinated. Other European countries are also facing a renewed surge of Covid-19 and are starting to crack down on vaccine holdouts in a bid to control rising infections.
9 million. That’s roughly how many people will be affected by the national lockdown in Austria. Roughly 2 million are believed to be unvaccinated and are already facing lockdown restrictions. Relative to population, Austria has one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. According to data collated by Our World In Data, the daily number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases over the last week is below just Slovakia and Slovenia.
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