The Government of Austria has finally ruled in favor of a mandatory nationwide lockdown for all those unvaccinated against COVID-19, effective Nov. 15.
According to Our World in Data, 63.40% of Austrians have been fully immunized against the disease.The situation is serious, we did not take this step with a light heart, but unfortunately, it is necessary, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.
Austria's vaccination rate is below the European Union's average of 66.16%. Neighboring Italy has a rate of 72.51% and Germany 66.91%.
According to this measure, people aged 12 and older who have not been either vaccinated against COVID-19 or recovered from it in the last 180 days will not be able to leave their homes unless for essential reasons such as buying food, exercising or seeking medical treatment. Those unvaccinated were already banned from restaurants or sports facilities and hairdressers. What is new now is that they are also limited to the supply of basic goods for everyday life when shopping, it was announced. Children under the age of twelve and pregnant women are not reached by the restrictions.
Unvaccinated Austrians will also be allowed to attend religious services and attend school or universities. They will also be allowed to go to a vaccination facility. In Upper Austria, Salzburg and Vienna, there are additional restrictions in place.
At schools, all students, including those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from COVID-19, have to take a test (including a PCR) three times a week. Both teachers and students at the higher levels are required to wear a facemask.
To ensure compliance with the rules, Austrian authorities will carry out random checks over the next 10 days. Vienna will start vaccinating children between the ages of five and 11, and more than 5,000 appointments have already been made even though the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not yet recommended the application of any immunizing agent for this age group.
Austria has recorded almost 950,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, with about 175,000 (18.4%) being in the last 28 days alone, and 11,706 deaths. The country still set a record for infections last week, with 52,906 in seven days, in addition to 145 deaths, the highest figure since early May