Austria will become the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full coronavirus lockdown this northern autumn to tackle a new wave of infections, and will require its entire population to be vaccinated as of February, its government says.
Roughly two-thirds of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe.
Its infections are among the highest on the continent, with a seven-day incidence of 991 per 100,000 people.
Austria introduced a lockdown for all those who were unvaccinated on Monday but since then infections have continued to set records.
Officials from the two worst-hit provinces, Salzburg and Upper Austria, said on Thursday they would introduce their own lockdowns, raising pressure on the government to do the same nationally.
“We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference, saying the lockdown would start on Monday and the requirement to be vaccinated on February 1.
“It hurts that such measures still have to be taken.”
With cold weather setting in across Europe as winter approaches, governments have been forced to consider reimposing unpopular lockdowns.
The Netherlands has brought back a partial lockdown, with bars and restaurants closing at 8pm.
The issue has deepened a rift between Schallenberg’s conservatives and their coalition partner, the left-wing Greens.
Schallenberg said only days ago he did not want to impose extra restrictions on the unvaccinated, even as Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein called for a night-time curfew.