Austria Starts New COVID-19 Lockdown for Unvaccinated People

Carolyn Crist

November 15, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

A police officer monitors compliance with the lockdown in Innsbruck, Austria, during the first day of a nationwide lockdown for people not yet vaccinated against COVID-19.

Austria began a new lockdown on Monday for those who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19.

People aged 12 years and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine must remain in their homes for 10 days if they haven't yet gotten a shot.

The move is meant to reduce the worst surge in infections that the country has faced during the pandemic, surpassing the peak from last November. The measure is one of the first national lockdowns directed at the unvaccinated, according to The New York Times .

"We must raise the vaccination rate. It is shamefully low," Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said during a news conference Sunday.

He made the announcement after a video call with the governors of Austria's nine provinces, according to The Guardian . Lockdowns in two provinces -- Upper Austria and Salzburg -- were announced Friday, and Sunday's move extended it to the whole country.

Starting today, those who can't show that they are fully vaccinated or immune from a previous infection are required to stay at home. They can leave for essential reasons, such as traveling to work, visiting a doctor, buying groceries, or getting vaccinated.

Officials said that police patrols would enforce the rules, and people could be fined up to 1,450 euros, or $1,660, according to The Associated Press.

Austria is reporting an average of more than 10,000 daily cases, with 11,552 new cases on Sunday, marking a sharp increase from 8,554 new daily infections a week ago, the AP reported.

About 65% of the country is fully vaccinated, which is one of the lowest rates in the European Union, according to Reuters.

The lockdown measures are meant to keep about 2 million unvaccinated Austrians at home as cases surge. The move comes a week after officials announced that most businesses would be required to check customers for proof of vaccination or immunity.

A crowd gathered outside of the chancellery in Vienna on Sunday to protest the new restrictions, The New York Times reported. Health officials pointed out that although overall COVID-19 cases were going up, infections among vaccinated residents were going down.

"We do not take this step lightly," Schallenberg said.

Sources

The New York Times: "Austria's new lockdown confines the unvaccinated to their homes."

The Guardian: "Austria orders nationwide lockdown for those not fully vaccinated against Covid."

The Associated Press: "Austria orders nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated."

Reuters: "Austria enters hard-to-enforce COVID-19 lockdown for the unvaccinated."

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