Austria is preparing to implement lockdown measures for unvaccinated people as coronavirus cases spike to record levels. The plan is expected to be approved Sunday and come into effect a day later, the Austria Press Association reported, citing a draft document.
Under the new measures, people without proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 would only be allowed to leave home for essential activities, including going to work, grocery shopping, medical treatment and exercise. Salzburg and Upper Austria, states with high Covid rates and low vaccination levels, are expected to introduce the measures themselves on Monday.
State governors will likely meet Sunday to discuss ways to turn around Austria’s sharply rising infections, which are increasingly straining medical facilities.
Austria’s seven-day average of Covid cases has more than doubled this month to more than 10,000, and its recent rate of infection is among the highest in the world. A record 13,152 cases were reported on Saturday.
Only about 65 per cent of Austrians are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. Hospitalisations have climbed, and deaths are averaging the highest levels since March, before vaccines were widely available.
Austrian chancellor Alexander Schallenberg on Thursday rejected lockdown measures for vaccinated people. "I don't see that two thirds should lose their freedom because one third is hesitating," Schallenberg said at a press conference. He called Austria's vaccine take-up "shamefully low."
The lockdowns would be enforced by spot checks and the threat of hefty fines. “We don’t live in a police state and are not able – and nor do we want – to control every street corner,” Mr Schallenberg said.
People without proof of vaccination or recovery are currently excluded from many activities in Austria, including concerts, restaurants and bars.– Bloomberg