Austria will impose a nationwide lockdown for people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming the first country in the world to do so, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced on Friday.
Schallenberg, speaking at a press conference in Tyrol, said the nationwide lockdown is expected to be formally approved at a meeting on Sunday. Random checks will be carried out to ensure compliance with the new restrictions.
“A lockdown for the unvaccinated means one cannot leave one’s home unless one is going to work, shopping (for essentials), stretching one’s legs – exactly what we all had to suffer through in 2020,” Schallenberg said earlier, according to Reuters.
The lockdown for the unvaccinated has already been formally approved in Upper Austria, where restrictions have also been announced for the entire population. This includes a legal requirement to wear an FFP2 mask in all indoor public places and a ban on events for 3 weeks.
Daily coronavirus cases in Austria reached an all-time high this week, with 11,576 new cases on Wednesday alone. A further 11,040 new cases were reported on Friday, along with 40 deaths, which is the highest since April 13.
About 60 percent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, making it the lowest rate in Western Europe, with the exception of tiny Liechtenstein. This means the lockdown will affect roughly 40 percent of the population.
However, questions have been raised about the feasibility of a lockdown which applies to only a part of the population. “We don’t live in a police state and we can’t and don’t want to check every street corner,” Schallenberg said.