Austria to impose lockdown for unvaccinated against COVID-19

Austria is threatening a potential lockdown for those unvaccinated if the situation in the country's intensive care units worsens, new government plans suggest, German Press Agency reports.

"We are about to stumble into a pandemic of the unprotected," Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Friday night after a crisis meeting.

Schallenberg ruled out a lockdown for those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19. He said he hopes the plans will send a signal.

There are still too many "hesitators and procrastinators," he said, referring to those who have not made plans to get vaccinated.

The situation in intensive care units is largely stable, despite the recent increase in new infection numbers.

About 220 intensive care beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients. If this number climbs to 600, Austria would reach phase five of its plan, which requires massive restrictions on movement for the unvaccinated.

Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said Austria is currently at phase one, so "we are looking very far into the future."

The seven-day incidence in the country is at just under 230 new infections per 100,000 people.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that most employees in Austria will have to prove they have been vaccinated, tested negative for the virus or recovered from COVID-19 starting Nov. 1.

The new phased plan now stipulates that only PCR testing will be considered as proof once 400 intensive care beds are occupied.

Around 62 percent of Austria's eligible population has been fully vaccinated.

Momentum has stalled in the country's vaccine campaign in recent weeks, with only a few thousand doses given on some days.

The right-wing populist Freedom Party, one of the country's biggest parties, has been fuelling vaccine skepticism.

And last month, regional elections for the Upper Austrian state parliament delivered a shocking result: The newly formed anti-vaccination party MFG (People, Freedom, Rights) achieved 6% – overcoming the 4% threshold to enter the parliament on its first try.


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