Austria plans to make it mandatory to throw Covid when it starts a new lockdown
The Austrian government will introduce a law requiring all citizens to get vaccinated against the coronavirus from early next year, becoming the first European country to do so, as infection rates continue to soar.
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday morning that it was time to “face reality” as he announced a new three-week lockdown for all Austrians.
From February 1, a “common obligation” will apply to all Austrians to get a coronavirus vaccine, Schallenberg said.
The government, made up of Schallenberg’s conservative People’s party and Austria’s Green Party, is likely to face an uphill political battle as it races to get the necessary legislation into force in the months coming, despite the broad support of the leading opposition Social Democrats.
“The political consensus has been against compulsory vaccination in this country and I also believe that people should be persuaded to get vaccinated – to protect them, to protect their loved ones, but also to protect society,” the prime minister told reporters at a news conference in Tyrol, after late-night discussions with Austrian state governors.
“But we have too many political forces, fragile vaccine skeptics and disinformation spreaders in this country. . . despite the campaigns [too many] people are still unvaccinated,” he said.
The mandate is likely to be fiercely opposed by Austria’s populist right-wing Liberal party, which has been increasingly outspoken against pandemic-related restrictions in recent months.
Some in Schallenberg’s moderate conservative People’s party are also likely to oppose the move. Party head and parliamentary leader Sebastian Kurz – who last month was sacked as prime minister in a corruption scandal – in the past were highly resistant to such scanning measures.
The consequence of allowing resistance to continue is “endless human suffering,” says Schallenberg.
The government has yet to release details of the “general obligation” for vaccination in Austria.
To date, only Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan have mandated vaccination.
“I have always emphasized that our goal should be to get the unvaccinated people vaccinated instead of imprisoning the vaccinated,” says Schallenberg.
All bars, restaurants, non-essential shops and entertainment venues in Austria will be closed from Monday to December 13. A review will be conducted 10 days after the ban comes into effect. effect to decide whether the measures can be eased ahead of time.
Schools will remain open. After December 13, and regardless of measures to ease restrictions, unvaccinated people will continue to be ordered to stay at home and barred from entering public indoor spaces.
Austria has instituted an effective embargo since Monday on all citizens who have not been fully stabbed – about a quarter of adults – in an effort to limit infections.
Austria reported a new record of 15,145 daily infections on Thursday, leaving the country with a seven-day average of 12,163 new daily cases, or 130 cases per 100,000 residents – more than double three times the EU average.
Austria is part of a group of wealthy – and mostly German-speaking – countries in the heart of Europe with poor vaccination rate.
In Germany, which has seen a steady increase in the number of cases over the past week, the air force is preparing aircraft in case it is necessary to transport Covid patients from the worst affected areas to areas with more hospital beds, local media said.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 federal leaders announced on Thursday that the hospitalization rate would be used to identify new coronavirus restrictions.