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Top StoriesAustria to Target the Unvaccinated in New Lockdown

Austria to Target the Unvaccinated in New Lockdown

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Austria will confine unvaccinated adults and minors over age 11 to their homes as part of a targeted lockdown, lawmakers announced Sunday.

The move, which is aimed at calming the worst surge in infections the country has faced since the pandemic started, is believed to be one of the first national lockdowns directed at the unvaccinated.

“We do not take this step lightly,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said at a news conference on Sunday.

Starting Monday, those who cannot prove that they are either fully vaccinated or immune from a past infection can only leave their dwellings for essential reasons, such as going to the doctor or for essential grocery shopping.

Karl Nehammer, the country’s interior minister, announced wide-ranging police measures, such as checking vaccination records, and laid out some of the fines people would face if caught breaking the rules.

Austria is currently averaging 10,395 cases a day, according the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Less than 65 percent of the country is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the European Union.

The new lockdown, which comes a week after an announcement that most businesses were required to check customers for proof of vaccination or immunity, essentially aims to keep the estimated two million unvaccinated Austrians off the streets as cases are surging.

Outside the chancellery in Vienna on Sunday, where Mr. Schallenberg, his interior and health minister were announcing the new restrictions, a crowd gathered to protest them.

The country’s Parliament is coming together Sunday afternoon to approve the rules, but the vote is a formality because the governing parties support it and have the votes to pass it.

Several lawmakers had called for a general lockdown to bring down the numbers, but the country’s health minister pointed out on Sunday that while the overall infections were going up, the infections among the immunized were actually decreasing.



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