The Austrian government has announced that it will impose a nationwide Covid lockdown from Monday 22 November.
According to Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, the lockdown will last ‘a maximum of 20 days’, however the government will impose a legal requirement to get vaccinated from 1 February 2022.
Under the new measures, Austrians will be asked to work from home and non-essential shops will close. Schools will remain open, however. The measures are intended to continue 12 December, with a reassessment after 10 days.
The measures are intended to combat a record number of cases in the country, which also has one of the lowest Covid vaccination levels in Western Europe. Approximately two million of Austria’s 8.9 million population remain unvaccinated, despite the country’s incidence rate for coronavirus rising to 1,049.9 cases per 100,000 people in the past week.
The announcement comes less than a week after the government previously implemented a number of anti-Covid restrictions for unvaccinated citizens, which came into force at midnight on Sunday 14 November. The measures did not apply to fully vaccinated individuals, however Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein had confirmed that further measures were being considered.
Tougher Covid measures across Europe
In Austria’s neighbour Germany, infections have also risen to record levels, Health Minister Jens Spahn has spoken of ‘a national emergency that requires a combined national effort’. While federal restrictions remain relatively lax, in some states Covid restrictions have tightened significantly already.
In Bavaria, the state government has declared heavy restrictions due to a weekly incidence rate of 1,000 per 100,000 people, which has seen the cancellation of the region’s traditional Christmas markets, the closure of bars, restaurants and other non-essential businesses.
In other European countries, stronger anti-Covid measures have already been put in place. The Czech Republic also announced plans to introduce Covid restrictions for unvaccinated citizens from 23 November earlier this week. However currently there are no plans to expand these restrictions to cover vaccinated people as well.
The Netherlands reintroduced a partial Covid lockdown on 13 November, with early closing times for retailers and non-essential businesses, and a recommendation that people work from home where possible.
In Ireland, the government has recommended that people work from home if they can and has introduced vaccine passes and earlier closing times for many non-essential businesses.