Austria, with one of the lowest rates of vaccinations in West Europe, will go back into a complete lockdown on November 22. By Naina Atri
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg of the Austrian government announced on Friday, November 19, that the country will reinstate a complete lockdown, days after one was imposed for unvaccinated citizens, reports the BBC.
Lockdown In Austria: Everything we know
The country’s COVID-19 cases have been on the rise, while its vaccination rates remain one of the lowest in Western Europe. The lockdown will last for 10 days, though it may be extended for an additional 10 days if situations don’t seem to improve. Under the measures, Austrians will be asked to work from home, non-essential shops will close, though schools will remain open for children who require face-to-face learning.
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According to NDTV, on Thursday, a new record of more than 15,000 new cases were reported in Austria, which has a population of approximately nine million people. Upper Austria has the country’s highest infection rate and its lowest vaccination rate. Along with Salzburg, it is one of the hardest-hit of Austria’s nine provinces, reports Reuters. Thus, to avoid a fifth wave of the novel coronavirus infection, once the national lockdown is lifted, lockdown measures will remain in place for unvaccinated Austrians.
Austria is also making plans to legally enforce vaccinations by February 1, making it the first European country to do so. According to the Chancellor, the inclination to do so comes from “too many political forces, flimsy vaccination opponents and fake news”, as reported by CNN. As of now, only 66 per cent of the eligible population has been vaccinated, making it below the EU average.
The European regional director at the World Health Organisation forecasts a difficult winter ahead, as he blames lax preventative measures, ineffective vaccination programs and the more-easily transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus, reports the BBC.