On Monday, Austria introduced a controversial lockdown for the unvaccinated, but today announced that lockdown will be extended to the whole population. The decision comes just as ski resorts are beginning to open with optimism for a good season after being closed to tourists last season.
Austria will be the first country in Western Europe to reimpose a total coronavirus lockdown to tackle rising infection rates that are amongst the highest in Europe. They have a seven-day incidence of 991 per 100,000 people.
During the announcement, the Austrian government also announced that it would require its whole population to get vaccinated by February. The chancellor said on Friday that those who refused to be vaccinated would face fines. Details will be finalised in the coming weeks.
The new measures mean people will not be allowed to leave their houses with few exceptions such as shopping for essentials and exercising. The lockdown will initially last for ten days
About two-thirds of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the second lowest rate in Europe. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg blames those refusing to be vaccinated for an “attack on the health system” and said, “it hurts that such measures still have to be taken.”
Austria’s neighbor Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has plunged into a ‘national emergency’. Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, while urging people to reduce their social contacts, and warning that vaccinations alone would not lower case numbers.
Hungary, which also neighbors Austria, is making wearing masks indoors compulsory, and the Netherlands has reimposed a partial lockdown, with bars and restaurants closing at 8 pm.