Austria will impose a COVID-19 lockdown on unvaccinated people in two hard-hit regions starting on Monday (tomorrow).
The country has the lowest vaccination rate of any western European nation apart from Liechtenstein, with many people there sceptical about having the jab.
From Monday, unvaccinated people in the regions of Upper Austria and Salzburg will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons, such as going to the supermarket or for a doctor’s appointment.
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said he and regional leaders will meet again on Sunday when they plan to approve implementing the same measures across the country.
Schallenberg told a news conference announcing the lockdowns that Austria’s vaccination rate is “shamefully low”. He said:
A lockdown for the unvaccinated means one cannot leave one’s home unless one is going to work, shopping (for essentials), stretching one’s legs – namely exactly what we all had to suffer through in 2020.
Austria has taken a series of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 and encourage more people to get vaccinated in recent weeks.
On Monday, new rules took effect barring unvaccinated people who haven’t recovered from infection from restaurants, hotels, hairdressing salons and large public events.
About 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, national statistics show.
But many Austrians are sceptical about vaccinations, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in parliament.