Austria‘s government is likely to decide on Sunday to impose a lockdown on people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 as daily infections have surged to record levels, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday.
Schallenberg did not say when the lockdown would take effect, but the two provinces hardest-hit by this wave of infections, Upper Austria and Salzburg, have said they will introduce the measure for themselves on Monday.
Roughly 65 per cent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe. Many Austrians are skeptical about vaccines, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in parliament.
“The aim is very clear: that we give the green light this Sunday for a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated,” Schallenberg told a news conference, adding that intensive-care units are increasingly strained.
“The development is such that I do not think it is sensible to wait … We will take this step now and my wish is that we take this step on Sunday and nationally for all nine provinces.”
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Schallenberg said on Thursday those not fully vaccinated would face the same restrictions on their daily movements that the whole country endured in three lockdowns last year. He says he wants to avoid a repeat of such restrictions on the whole population.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Jon Boyle and Andrei Khalip)