Austria orders unvaccinated people to lock down Covid

The Austrian government said, on Sunday, that it is putting millions of people who have not been fully vaccinated against the Corona virus under lockdown until Monday to deal with the increase in infections to record levels and the increasing pressure on intensive care units.

Europe is epicenter of the epidemic Once again, prompting some governments to consider reimposing unpopular lockdowns. Austria has one of the highest infection rates on the continent, with a seven-day infection rate of 815 per 100,000 people.

«We are not taking this step lightly, but it is necessary,» Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said at a news conference announcing the new measure under which vaccinators can only leave their homes for a limited number of reasons such as going to work or shopping for necessities.

Nearly 65 per cent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. Many Austrians are skeptical of vaccines, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third largest party in parliament.

Monday’s measures will extend those introduced a week ago that banned unvaccinated people from entering places such as restaurants, hotels, theaters and ski lifts.

As the Netherlands deals with an increase in the number of cases by imposing a partial lockdown that applies to everyone, the conservative-led Austrian government wants to avoid further restrictions on those who are fully vaccinated.

«In fact, we said to a third of the population: ‘You’re not going to leave your apartment anymore except for certain reasons.’

high risk area

In Germany, the federal government and leaders of Germany’s 16 states are due to meet next week to discuss the toughening measures. Germany has already classified Austria as a high-risk area, which means that people coming from there must be quarantined, which is a blow to Austria’s winter tourism industry.

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Targeted measures have recently been implemented in Australia, where 83 per cent of people aged 16 or older have been vaccinated. Some states have mandated vaccinations for some occupations and banned unvaccinated people from activities such as eating out, leading to demonstrations.

Singapore, where 85 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, said those who remained unvaccinated by choice would have to pay their medical bills from next month.

Austria’s lockdown, which does not apply to those under 12 or people who have recently recovered from Covid-19, will initially last 10 days, Health Minister Wolfgang Moekstein said.

Several officials, including within Schallenberg’s conservative party and the police, have expressed doubts that this lockdown can be applied properly as it applies to only a part of the population. Interior Minister Karl Nahamer said there would be thorough police checks.

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