Austria implements nationwide lockdown as cases surge

Austria’s government has implemented a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated citizens as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the country, The Associated Press reported.

The new restrictions will prohibit unvaccinated residents who are 12 years old or older from leaving their homes unless it is for work purposes, grocery shopping, physical activities, or getting vaccinated. 

Police presence will also be stepped up during the lockdown and unvaccinated residents will be fined up to 1,450 euros ($1,660) if they violate rules, officials said. 

This comes as Austria has seen a rise in virus infections and the increased pressure it is putting on hospitals, according to the AP. 

On Sunday, the country reported 849.2 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous week. 

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said in a radio interview that the new lockdown is a “dramatic step” for the country, saying the goal is “to reduce contact between the unvaccinated and vaccinated to a minimum, and also contact between the unvaccinated.”

“My aim is very clearly to get the unvaccinated to get themselves vaccinated and not to lock down the vaccinated,” Schallenberg told Oe1 radio. “In the long term, the way out of this vicious circle we are in — and it is a vicious circle, we are stumbling from wave to lockdown, and that can’t carry on ad infinitum — is only vaccination.”

Schallenberg added that it’s “shamefully low” that 65 percent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against the virus, the AP reported. 

Austrian health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein told state media he wanted to discuss more on future measures, saying a proposed limit on all residents going out at night is currently on the table.

Austria’s government will impose the lockdown until Nov. 24, the AP noted.

Tags Alexander Schallenberg austria Coronavirus COVID-19 lockdown Europe restrictions vaccinations

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