The Austrian government on Friday announced that the country will go into its fourth nationwide lockdown and will make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory.
Heath Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said: “The lockdown will break the fourth wave; the way out of the fifth wave is vaccination, vaccination, vaccination.”
“Our shared goal needs to be getting unvaccinated people, rather than shutting away the vaccinated,” said Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, but he added that despite extensive efforts, “we have not succeeded in getting enough people vaccinated.
He criticised the “irresponsible” anti-vaccine campaigns from Austrian politicians, saying: “There are too many political forces in this country, that have campaigned against [vaccination]. The consequences of this are overfilled intensive care stations and enormous human suffering.”
“This decision does not come easily to us. None of us enjoys bringing in measures that put limits on freedom,” said Schallenberg. He said that the decision was necessary because “too many among us have acted without solidarity”.
The lockdown will follow the rules that are already familiar to people in Austria. Reasons under which it is possible to leave the house include attending work if it is not possible to work from home, seeking medical care, essential shopping (such as for food or medicines) and exercise.
The governors of Salzburg and Upper Austria, the two regions with the highest spread of Covid-19, had already announced they would begin another lockdown for the whole population from Monday, lasting for at least three weeks in Salzburg and until December 17th in Upper Austria.
A lockdown was already in place for unvaccinated people across the whole country as of the start of this week.
The announcement comes after Austria recorded another all-time high for new daily cases on Thursday, with 15,145 cases reported in 24 hours.