COVID-19: Austria to impose lockdown on all unvaccinated people from midnight

Austria is putting all unvaccinated residents into lockdown from midnight on Sunday, the government has said.

Anyone over the age of 12 who has not been double-jabbed will only be allowed to leave their homes for work, school, exercise and buying essential supplies.

The lockdown will affect around two million of Austria‘s 8.9 million population and last for 10 days before being reviewed.

On Friday, the government announced plans to lockdown the unvaccinated in two regions – Upper Austria and Salzburg – but this has now been extended to the rest of the country.

Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe and a seven-day average COVID infection rate of 775.5 per 100,000 people. The UK equivalent is currently 348.7 per 100,000.

Ministers hope the new measures will encourage people to get vaccinated and start to curb case levels.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters in Vienna on Sunday: “It’s our job as the government of Austria to protect the people. Therefore we decided that starting Monday… there will be a lockdown for the unvaccinated.”

Police will be told to monitor people’s activities and can fine them up to £1,200 (1,450 euros) for breaking the rules, Mr Schallenberg added.

Mr Schallenberg stressed that while the seven-day infection rate for vaccinated people has been falling in recent days, for the unvaccinated numbers are rising.

“The rate for the unvaccinated is at over 1,700, while for the vaccinated it is at 383,” he said.

He also called on people who have already been vaccinated to get their booster jabs, claiming that otherwise “we will never get out of this vicious circle”.

There has been growing concern about rising coronavirus cases in Europe, with the Netherlands going into a three-week partial lockdown and officials considering new restrictions in Germany.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week he feared “storm clouds gathering over parts of the European continent” could make their way to the UK if more people do not take up booster jabs.

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