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Austria announces nationwide lockdown, plans mandate for vaccines

Austria will enter a national lockdown on Monday and impose a coronavirus vaccination mandate next February, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Friday. This is the first such lockdown in a European country since spring and the first national vaccination mandate on the continent.

“Nobody wants a lockdown – lockdown is the very last resort, a crude instrument,” said Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein. “A foreclosure is always an imposition, but it is the most reliable instrument we have to break this fourth wave.”

Most aspects of public life in Austria will be suspended for at least 10 days under the lockdown, which will affect both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

The measures, reminiscent of those European countries put in place before vaccines became available, follow other recent restrictions – including a lockdown for unvaccinated people and planned lockdowns in two states – which have little done to reduce the rate of infection.

Under the new rules, people will only be allowed to leave their homes for vital reasons such as shopping for groceries, going to work or doing basic exercise. Only supermarkets and shops selling basic necessities will be allowed to remain open.

The country, which on Thursday recorded 14,212 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, has one of the highest national infection rates in Europe.

Austria also has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe, with 66 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

“For a long time, the political consensus has been that we do not want compulsory vaccinations in this country,” Schallenberg said when announcing the new measures. “But we have to face reality.”

nytimes Gt

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