COVID19 lockdown begins for the unvaccinated in Austria

The Conservative-led government says that around two million people in the country of roughly nine million are now only able to leave their homes for a limited number of reasons, such as commuting to work or shopping for essentials.

The goal is to counter a rise in infections to record levels driven by a total vaccination rate of only about 65% of the population, one of the lowest in Western Europe.

“My goal is very clear: to get the unvaccinated to get vaccinated, not to lock up the unvaccinated,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told ORF radio while explaining the shutdown, which was announced Sunday.

An overview of the Austria Center, which has been established as a mass vaccination center against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Vienna, Austria, on April 22, 2021 (credit: REUTERS / LISI NIESNER).

Many Austrians are skeptical about vaccines, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-largest in parliament, which is planning a protest against the government’s coronavirus policies on Saturday.

There has been an increase in early vaccinations since the unvaccinated were excluded from places like restaurants, cafes, theaters and ski lifts last week.

Police are conducting additional checks and Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said on Sunday that they would check the vaccination status of all members of the public with whom they interact.

There are widespread doubts, even among Schallenberg’s conservatives and the police, about whether this lockdown can be properly enforced.

It can be difficult to check, for example, if an unvaccinated person is going to work, what is allowed, or if they are going to buy non-essential items, which is not allowed.

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