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Austria Forces Unvaccinated Citizens Into Lockdown

By Paula Gallagher··  2 min read
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In a move that opponents have criticized for creating second-class citizens, Austria requires those who haven’t been fully vaccinated to go into lockdown.

Citing a surge in cases and stress on hospitals, Austria’s chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has announced new restrictions that apply only to the unvaccinated and those partially vaccinated. Beginning today, unvaccinated people can only leave their homes for necessary reasons, such as for work or to buy groceries. The restrictions will “initially last for 10 days.” 

Those who can prove they’ve recently recovered from Covid and children under the age of 12 are exempt.

"We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately it is necessary...In reality, we have told one-third of the population: you will not leave your [home] apart from certain reasons," Chancellor Schallenberg said. "That is a massive reduction in contacts between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated."

Prior to the new restrictions, unvaccinated people were already barred from restaurants, hair salons, movie theaters, and other public venues.

Now, police have been authorized to check the vaccination status of people in public spaces. Those who are caught violating the vaccination regulations will be fined. According to Austria’s health ministry, “anyone who violates the lockdown for the unvaccinated could be fined €500 ($572), while a penalty of €1,450 could be incurred for refusing to participate in checks.”

The new lockdown for the unvaccinated affects about two million people. Austria currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe – about 65% of the population is fully vaccinated.

There was a rush for last-minute vaccination over the weekend, while others opposed to the vaccine participated in a protest outside the chancellery in Vienna. Protestors held banners that said: “Our bodies, our freedom to decide." Others opposed to the vaccine pressure argue that it’s unconstitutional and that it’s creating second-class citizens. 

As one protestor said, “It is totally discriminatory what is happening here.”

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