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Austria Announces Nationwide Lockdown and Plans Vaccine Mandate

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Austria will go right into a nationwide lockdown on Monday and impose a coronavirus vaccination mandate subsequent February as a spike in infections dangers overburdening the nation’s hospitals, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg mentioned on Friday.

It is the primary such lockdown in a European nation for the reason that spring, and the primary nationwide vaccine mandate on the continent.

“Nobody wants a lockdown — the lockdown is the very last resort, a crude instrument,” Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein mentioned. “A lockdown is always an imposition, but it is the most reliable instrument we have to break this fourth wave.”

Most points of public life in Austria can be suspended for not less than 10 days beneath the lockdown, which is able to have an effect on each vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

The measures, harking back to people who European nations put into place earlier than vaccines have been obtainable, observe different latest restrictions — together with a lockdown for unvaccinated individuals and deliberate lockdowns in two states — which have carried out little to decrease the speed of an infection.

Under the brand new guidelines, individuals can be allowed to depart their houses just for important functions reminiscent of searching for groceries, going to work or getting a primary degree of train. Only supermarkets and shops promoting necessities can be allowed to stay open.

The nation, which registered 14,212 new coronavirus instances in 24 hours on Thursday, has certainly one of Europe’s highest nationwide an infection charges.

Austria additionally has one of many lowest vaccination charges in Europe, with 66 p.c of the inhabitants absolutely inoculated.

“For a long time, the political consensus has been that we do not want compulsory vaccinations in this country,” Mr. Schallenberg mentioned when saying the brand new measures. “But we have to face reality.”