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A sign for customers to be either vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in Salzburg, Austria, on November 12. Parts of the country are introducing a lockdown for the unvaccinated from Monday. A nationwide lockdown for those who have not had a jab may follow. Photo: AFP

Austria considers national lockdown for unvaccinated as Covid-19 cases keep rising

  • Only around 65 per cent of the population is fully jabbed; chancellor urges people to get their shots
  • Partial lockdown begins on Monday; possible nationwide one will be discussed over the weekend

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg says he wants to introduce a nationwide lockdown for those not vaccinated against or recovered from the coronavirus, as cases hit record highs.

Only around 65 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated in Austria, a rate described by Schallenberg as “shamefully low”.

Salzburg and Upper Austria states, which have seen some of the worst case rates, are already introducing a lockdown for the unvaccinated from Monday.

This means they will not be able to leave the house except for reasons such as buying essential supplies, exercise or seeking medical care.


The global spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19

The global spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19

“The aim is clear: we want on Sunday to give the green light for a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated,” Schallenberg said on Friday. He said lockdowns across the country would be enforced with “random” spot checks.

The measure will have to be signed off by parliament and a meeting of the heads of regional governments over the weekend before it can be rolled out across the country.

Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein announced on Friday he would order compulsory vaccination for health workers but did not specify when this would enter into force.

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Mueckstein said that availability in intensive care units in the hardest-hit areas was becoming “ever scarcer”.

Schallenberg said the government had been reluctant to consider the latest measure but justified it by saying: “The majority of the population, who have done the right thing, who have protected themselves – now we have to protect them too.”

He called again on those who have not yet been vaccinated to get the jab.

Preparations are underway for this year’s Christmas market in Salzburg, Austria. Photo: AFP

Last week, the government said that only those vaccinated against or recovered from the virus would be allowed into restaurants, hotels and cultural venues.

Mueckstein said on Friday that vaccination numbers had increased in the past few days.

In elections in Upper Austria in September a party set up specifically to oppose coronavirus restrictions won six per cent of votes and a seat in the regional assembly.

So far, more than 11,640 people infected with the coronavirus have died in Austria.

On Wednesday the daily new case rate in the EU member of 8.9 million people hit 11,398, the highest number recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.