Austria’s nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people begins Nov. 15.
At a press conference in Vienna, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said the country needed to improve its “shamefully low vaccination rate.”
“We are not taking this step lightly. But unfortunately it’s necessary,” he said.
About 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, a figure lower than France or Italy. Neighboring Slovakia reports a vaccination rate of 43%.
“Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe: only around 65% of the total population is fully vaccinated. In recent weeks, Austria has faced a worrying rise in infections. Authorities reported 11,552 new cases on Sunday; a week ago there were 8,554 new daily infections,” per ABC News.
Schallenberg asked those who have been vaccinated to get booster shots as well or, he said, “we will never get out of this vicious circle.”
Fines for unvaccinated people who do not comply start at 500 euros ($572). They must stay in their homes at all times except for work, study, attending to medical needs, or buying groceries. They can also leave to get fresh air.
Because they cannot get vaccinated, children under 12 are exempt from the restrictions.
Unvaccinated people in Austria were already prohibited from attending concerts, restaurants, and bars.
Any businesses caught violating the new rules can now be fined approximately 3,000 euros. Additionally, groups who plan to evade regulations may be fined up to 30,000 euros.
Austria’s Interior Ministry also advised vaccinated people not to leave their house without proof of vaccination because police will be conducting spot checks on those outside their homes.
Austria is not the only European nation to introduce new rules following an increase in COVID-19 cases. The Netherlands and Norway both announced new restrictions on Nov. 12. Germany’s additional lockdown rules go into place on Nov. 15. Last week, Berlin banned unvaccinated people from going to restaurants, bars, gyms, hairdressers and cinemas for at least the upcoming week.
“Vaccine rates vary across Europe but get steadily lower towards the east of the continent,” reports 7 News. “Russia has hit a new daily record for COVID deaths, with 1241 registered in the previous 24 hours, the country’s coronavirus task force said on Saturday.”
“Globally, governments keen to get life back to normal are increasingly looking for ways to force more people to get inoculated — from putting unvaccinated people on forced leave, to declining to pay for their medical care,” per Bloomberg.
An estimated 2 million people of Austria’s 8.9 million population will be impacted. The restrictions are currently in place until Nov. 24.