Austria’ Unvaccinated to Lockdown Amid Rising Cases

In Austria, people not vaccinated against the coronavirus have entered into a lockdown on Monday.

Amid rising Covid infections and deaths, the country has ordered about 2 million unvaccinated people in the country to lockdown with reinforced police checks to ensure compliance, though city streets appeared as busy as usual.

Unvaccinated people will only be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, like working or buying food.

The government says that about two million people in the country of estimated nine million are now only allowed to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons like working or shopping for essentials like food.

And about 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

“My aim is very clear: to get the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, not to lock up the unvaccinated,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg explained the lockdown, which was announced on Sunday.

The aim is to counter a surge in infections to record levels fueled by a full vaccination rate.

The measures introduced in the country on Monday, which come amid growing pressure on the nation’s hospitals, will initially last for 10 days, as more than 800 cases per 100,000 people, which is one of the highest in the region.

And again, Europe has become the area most seriously affected by the pandemic and several countries are introducing restrictions and warnings amid rising cases.

The UK for instance, which has one of the highest Covid infection rates, is yet to reintroduce restriction measures, despite health leaders calling for rules like mandatory face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces to be brought back to avoid a crisis in winter.

The Netherlands has reintroduced lockdown measures and restaurants, bars, and non-essential shops required to close down and limits placed on private gatherings. Germany may follow with similar measures targeted at people who haven’t taken up the government’s offer to get inoculated. 

Why the Protests from People?

Hundreds of people over the weekend protested outside the chancellery in the capital, Vienna, with banners waving: “Our bodies, our freedom to decide,” the banner read.

“It’s our job as the government of Austria to protect the people,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters on Sunday.

“Therefore we decided that starting Monday, there will be a lockdown for the unvaccinated.”

A large number of Austrians are skeptical about vaccines, as encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in Parliament, which is planning a protest against the government’s coronavirus policies on Saturday.