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Austria imposes ban on non-vaccinators: two ...

Austria imposes ban on non-vaccinators: two …

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced the closure during a press conference in Vienna © Reuters

Austria imposes a ban on non-vaccinators. Those who are not fully vaccinated are only allowed to go to work or do essential errands. “It is not an easy step, but unfortunately it is necessary,” said Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP). The rule will last ten days.

Kim Clemens

Anyone who has not been vaccinated is not allowed to go outside. In short, this is the thinking behind the new lockdown of unvaccinated people in Austria. The intention is that only those who have been fully vaccinated can participate in daily life. Everyone else should stay at home, except to go to the doctor, a workplace where it is not possible to work remotely, or to buy food. Travel restrictions apply throughout the day, including weekends. This procedure does not apply to children up to the age of twelve. Education continues as usual. Schools remain open and students are tested three times a week.

“We are not taking this step lightly, but it is imperative that we take it,” Alexander Schallenberg, the chancellor for just a month ago, said at a press conference. Initially, the shutdown of unvaccinated people in two states was expected. Schallenberg already made it clear on Friday that he supports expanding this system. On Sunday, he is scheduled to meet with leaders of the federal states with the aim of giving the green light.

It has been successful now. The partial closure will go into effect for ten days from Monday. Previously, those who had not been vaccinated or could not prove their infection in the past 180 days were also limited in their actions. For example, it was impossible for them to go to the hairdresser, restaurant or sports facilities. The new procedures go further. Schallenberg refers to the delta variant, which means that the numbers in Austria are rising again. The seven-day incidence rate is 814 per 100,000 population. Hospital admissions and the number of people in intensive care are on the rise again.

‘Vaccinations are too low’

It also refers to “extremely low vaccination coverage” in Austria. Recently, the number of vaccinations has spread greatly, but currently less than 65 percent of Austrians are fully vaccinated. After Liechtenstein, this is the lowest number in Western Europe. “With such a low vaccination rate, we remain in a vicious cycle,” Schallenberg says. “Vaccination is our only way out of the epidemic.”

The intent is that partial closure will increase the desire to vaccinate. About a third of Austrians are affected by the new measures. About two million people have not yet been vaccinated. The police were asked to check whether everyone actually had a permit, on pain of heavy fines.

Questions about the scale also appear. Experts have their doubts about whether a lockdown only to the unvaccinated is feasible and whether it could also work. It had previously been proposed to require everyone to reduce the number of contacts by thirty percent. In addition, a group of dozens of scientists in Austria suggested that a vaccination certificate is not enough to go to a restaurant. They suggest that anyone wishing to eat out should pass the PCR test, regardless of whether that person has been vaccinated or cured.

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