Austria Sends Unvaccinated Into Lockdown—Here’s How Other Nations Are Limiting People Who Don’t Get Covid-19 Shots

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Topline

Austria sent millions of unvaccinated people into lockdown Monday as it battles to contain record levels of Covid-19, the latest in a string of targeted restrictions as governments around the world crack down on vaccine holdouts in an effort to boost stagnant vaccination rates.

A demonstrator in Austria protests the new vaccination rules and holds a placard reading ‘No to … [+] compulsory vaccination’ in Vienna.


APA/AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Anybody not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will only be allowed to leave home for a limited number of reasons like work or essential shopping from Monday, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Sunday. 

Children under the age of 12 and people who have recently recovered from Covid-19 will be exempt from the new restrictions, said health minister Wolfgang Mückstein.

The lockdown is initially set to last 10 days and Mückstein said additional restrictions are being considered for all people in an effort to ease pressure on Austria’s struggling hospitals. 

The government said it will carry out checks on people out in public and fine those flouting the new rules. 

With the policy, Austria joins a number of other regions restricting the freedoms of unvaccinated people, including parts of Australia, which kept lockdown restrictions in place for the unvaccinated, and Berlin, which moved to ban the unvaccinated from restaurants, bars and gyms.

Singapore also announced it will no longer be covering the healthcare costs of Covid-19 patients for those who are unvaccinated by choice.  

Big Number

2 million. That’s roughly how many people are believed to be affected by the new restrictions from Austria’s population of 9 million people. Relative to population, Austria has one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world. According to data collated by Our World In Data, the daily number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases over the last week is below just Slovenia and Croatia.   

Crucial Quote

Schallenberg said the new measures were an attempt to raise the country’s “shamefully low” vaccination rate. Around 65% of the population is fully vaccinated, one of the worst vaccination rates in Western Europe. “We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately it is necessary,” the chancellor said.

Key Background 

Despite the ready availability of safe and effective vaccines in wealthy countries and the heavy toll of the pandemic, resistance to the shots remains high. The nationwide rules in Austria expand upon local restrictions in Upper Austria imposed Friday and are the latest restrictions to explicitly target vaccine holdouts for their role in perpetuating the pandemic. 

Tangent

Weeks ago, the World Health Organization warned Europe was “once again, at the epicentre” of the pandemic. Cases and deaths have been rising there even as they largely fell around the world and the region now accounts for more than half of the average seven-day cases worldwide, according to Our World In Data. Countries across the bloc are implementing new restrictions in a bid to control rising infections, with the Netherlands implementing a soft lockdown Friday requiring venues like restaurants and cafes to shut early. 

Further Reading

Lockdown And Restrictions Resurface In Europe As Continent Battles Another Covid Surge (Forbes)

Covid: Austria introduces lockdown for unvaccinated (BBC)

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