Austria starts lottery to boost support for Vaccination Mandate

Austrian lawmakers have passed the first European Union law to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory as other member states ease restrictions during the latest wave of the pandemic.

The House of Representatives passed the policy on Thursday with the additional support of most deputies in the two opposition groups. The far-right Liberal Party has rejected the plan.

The authorization will go into effect next month, and officials will begin imposing fines of up to 3,600 euros ($4,084) against dissidents from mid-March. The government will also introduce a lottery system to reward those willing to participate.

After months of preparation, Austria is going ahead with a policy that goes beyond efforts by other countries to convince people to get vaccinated. It has enforced some of the strictest restrictions in the latest wave of the virus, including a nationwide shutdown in November that in principle persisted for the unvaccinated.
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Several European countries have relaxed their policies on the spread of the omicron variant, causing infection rates to rise but fewer hospitalizations. The UK will end requirements for Covid-pass cards or face masks next week, and the Netherlands ended a strict ban earlier in the week.

Protesters gathered in central Vienna for Thursday’s debate, marching along a major avenue, following demonstrations that have attracted tens of thousands of people in recent weeks. Police cleared a security area around the parliament.

Herbert Kickl, leader of the Liberal Party, has pledged not to vaccinate.

Despite the potential difficulties in carrying out the task, the government hopes to further boost vaccination rates from around 72% of the population.

Now it is turning to the carrot and stick approach, announcing a lottery for the vaccinated with 500 euros ($568) worth of hotels, restaurants and other services. . Cities will also receive progressive state subsidies after reaching 80%, 85% and 90% vaccination rates, respectively.

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