Austria orders lockdown of those not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from Monday

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Austria is putting millions of people not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus on lockdown from Monday to deal with rising infections to record levels, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Sunday.

Europe has once again become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting some governments to consider reimposing unpopular lockdowns.

About 65% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is 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 in parliament.

As the Netherlands cope with its spike in infections by imposing a partial lockdown that applies to everyone, Austria’s conservative-led government says it wants to avoid imposing further restrictions on those who are completely vaccinated.

“We need to increase the vaccination rate. It’s shamefully low, ”Schallenberg said at a press conference announcing the new measure after a video call with the governors of Austria’s nine provinces.

>> Read more: Austria, Germany see new restrictions on unvaccinated as Covid-19 cases rise

People aged 12 and under will be exempt from the lockdown, under which the unvaccinated can only leave their homes for a limited number of reasons, such as going to work or buying basic necessities, the minister said. Health Wolfgang Mueckstein at the press conference, adding that it would initially be last 10 days.

Many officials, including within Schallenberg’s Conservative Party and the police, have expressed doubts that such a lockdown could be properly enforced as it only applies to part of the population. Schallenberg and Home Secretary Karl Nehammer, however, said there would be extensive police checks.

(REUTERS)

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