Vienna, Austrian residents not vaccinated against the coronavirus will have to enter a lockdown, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg and the heads of the state governments agreed on Sunday.
The measures will apply from Monday.
Citizens who are not vaccinated will only be permitted to leave their homes to shop for essential needs, go to work or visit a doctor. They will also be allowed to go outside for fresh air at any time for the beefit of their physical and mental health.
There will be random checks to ensure compliance, according to the decision from a meeting of Schallenberg and the heads of the country’s state governments.
Violations of the lockdown are punishable with fines of up to 1,450 euros (1,660 dollars). There will be an exception for schools and pupils, dpa reported.
The chancellor also noted that individual states are free to introduce even tougher guidelines if they wish.
Records are being set almost daily for infections in Austria. On Saturday, the authorities registered more than 13,000 infections.
Schallenberg said the decision was “not taken light-heartedly.”
“With the vaccination rates as they are, we will stay stuck in a vicious cycle” of coronavirus infections, he said. The “shamefully low” uptake in vaccination had to be forced upwards, he said. To date, only about 65 percent of people in Austria are vaccinated.
The lockdown measures will be in force for an initial period of 10 days, and would affect some 2 million people. Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said the goal is to encourage willingness to get vaccinations and to reduce social contacts by about 30 percent.
There are already major restrictions for the unvaccinated. For example, they need to show a negative coronavirus test to go to work, and cannot take part in many aspects of public life.
The seven-day incidence of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants rose to 814.6. Looking only at the unvaccinated, the seven-day incidence rises to more than 1,700 per 100,000, noted Schallenberg.
The government had initially only planned to go ahead with its lockdown plan once the country’s hospitals counted 600 intensive care beds occupied by coronavirus patients. Currently, that number is 433. But case counts are rising so fast that the government was prompted into quicker action.
Health care experts still want more, arguing that the lockdown should be extended to everyone. The government has resisted this argument, out of fears it would lead to a drop-off in willingness to get vaccinated.
On the other side of the debate, the far-right FPOe expressed outrage at the lockdown for the unvaccinated and party leader Herbert Kickl called a protest for next Saturday in the capital Vienna.
The country was introducing a “corona apartheid system,” Kickl wrote on Facebook. He also announced that he would issue a complaint with the Constitutional Court claiming the injury of basic freedoms.
The FPOe has long railed against restrictions meant to curb coronavirus infections and has criticized the vaccination drive.
Kickl has spoken of “experimental vaccines” and recommended the use of an anti-parasitic medication to treat Covid-19.
His party stands at around 20 percent in national opinion polls.
Source: Bahrain News Agency