Austria’s government is expected to impose a lockdown on persons who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus on Sunday, as daily infections have reached record highs, according to Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg on Friday.
Schallenberg did not specify when the lockdown would go into force, but the two provinces hardest impacted by the outbreak, Upper Austria and Salzburg, have stated they will implement it on Monday.
Austria has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccination in Western Europe, with approximately 65 percent of the population fully immunized. Many Austrians are skeptical of vaccines, a viewpoint supported by the far-right Freedom Party, the country’s third-largest political party.
“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.”
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.