Austria to enter national lockdown, make vaccinations compulsory | Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera
Austria will become the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a full coronavirus lockdown to tackle a new wave of infections and will require its whole population to be vaccinated as of February, its government has said.
Roughly two-thirds of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. The government made the announcement on the lockdown on Friday.
Its infections are among the highest on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 991 per 100,000 people.
Austria introduced a lockdown for all those who were unvaccinated on Monday but since then, infections have continued to set new records.
The two worst-hit provinces, Salzburg and Upper Austria, said on Thursday they would introduce their own lockdowns, raising pressure on the government to do the same nationally.
“We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference, saying the lockdown would start on Monday.
He blamed those refusing to be vaccinated for an “attack on the health system” and said, “it hurts that such measures still have to be taken.”
The lockdown means people are no longer allowed to leave their houses with few exceptions such as shopping for essentials and exercising.
With cold weather setting in across Europe as winter approaches, governments have been forced to consider reimposing unpopular lockdowns.
Hungary, which neighbours Austria, is making wearing masks indoors again compulsory from Saturday, the government said on Thursday.
The Netherlands has reimposed a partial lockdown, with bars and restaurants closing at 8pm (19:00 GMT)
The issue in Austria has deepened a rift between Schallenberg’s conservatives and their coalition partner, the left-wing Greens.
Schallenberg said only days ago that he did not want to impose extra restrictions on the unvaccinated, even as Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein called for a nighttime curfew.
This content was originally published here.