Austria To Place Unvaccinated Citizens in Strict Lockdown

Austria could introduce a new lockdown, ordering all unvaccinated people to stay home in another move that highlights its efforts to increase its vaccination rates.

On Friday, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters that Austrian authorities could give the “green light” for the measure this weekend, targeting Europe’s worst-hit coronavirus regions, Upper Austria and Salzburg.

During a press conference in Innsbruck, Schallenberg said: “The aim is clear: we want on Sunday to give the green light for a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated.”

The chancellor told a separate press conference Thursday that Austria’s vaccination rate was “shamefully low,” with only 65% of the population fully vaccinated. He insinuated that the new ruling for unvaccinated citizens could take effect in a few days.

“In other states that rate is a lot higher — it is shameful as we have enough vaccines available,” he added.

Under the plan agreed in September, unvaccinated Austrians have been ordered to stay home once 30% of intensive care beds are occupied by people diagnosed with Covid-19.

According to the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), the occupancy rate of intensive-care beds by covid-19 patients is currently 21%, and infections have increased rapidly.

Currently, unvaccinated people cannot enter entertainment venues, hairdressers, restaurants and other public-life places in Austria. But such restrictions could be further tightened if a new lockdown goes into effect.

If the proposed measures are approved, unvaccinated people must remain at home. They will be only allowed to leave for reasons considered essential to life, including going to work, shopping, or visiting the doctor.

Schallenberg said regional leaders would meet Sunday to decide whether or not to approve the plan, which could be applied across the country with random checks to enforce the rules.

Such measure comes as a Covid-19 infections wave swept through central Europe. On Friday night, the Netherlands announced a three-week partial lockdown after health officials reported a surge in coronavirus cases.

Also, Norway announced stricter controls on Friday, and Germany expects to impose fresh restrictions from Monday.