Austria will enter a state of lockdown, bring mandatory vaccinations
Berlin – Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday that the country would go into a national lockdown to contain the fourth wave of coronavirus cases.
Schallenberg said the shutdown will begin on Monday and will initially last for 10 days. Most stores will be closed and cultural events cancelled.
He initially said that all students would have to go back to homeschooling. The country’s health minister, Wolfgang Mikstein, later said schools would remain open for those who need to go there, but all parents were asked to keep their children at home if possible.
From February 1, the country will also make vaccinations mandatory, public broadcaster ORF reports.
“We don’t want a fifth wave,” Schallenberg said, according to ORF. “We don’t want the sixth or seventh wave.”
Austria had initially imposed a nationwide lockdown only for the unvaccinated that began on Monday, but with virus cases continuing to rise, the government said it had no choice but to extend it to everyone.
“It’s very painful,” Schallenberg said.
The national lockdown will initially last for 10 days, then the effects will be assessed and if virus cases do not drop enough, it can be extended to a maximum of 20 days.
Austria, with a population of 8.9 million, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe. Over the past seven days, the country has reported more than 10,000 new cases per day. Hospitals are overwhelmed with many new COVID-19 patients, and deaths are up again, too.
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