Austria targets unvaccinated people with lockdown policy

November 17, 2021

Austria targets unvaccinated people with lockdown policy

COVID-19 is still on the run in Europe, and some experts are predicting a devastating winter. The worrisome signs are everywhere on the Old Continent, and a few countries are already taking drastic measures to curb the virus. Austria is one of them.

Austrian police find very few violations

Austria is facing a record high in new coronavirus cases. Daily infections crossed 14,000 for the first time. A lockdown for the unvaccinated population has started on Monday.

The lockdown rules target close to 35 percent of the country. People, who are unvaccinated, cannot leave their homes unless they have specific reasons.

Moreover, Austrian police are conducting random checks to make sure that the so-called ban reaches its goal.

The new restrictions cast a wide net and concern, anyone, over the age of 12 who did not get two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

About two-thirds of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated. This is one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe.

Austrian officials claimed that on Monday alone, 15,000 police checks were conducted. Only 120 violations were found.

The fines are steep enough to discourage some in the anti-vaccine crowd.

Austrians, who refuse to reveal their vaccination status, could face a fine estimated at 1,450 euros ($1639). Those, who simply break the lockdown order, will be fined 500 euros ($567).

The measure is controversial and has raised many questions in the legal community. Some are openly wondering if it is going to work.

Will Austria’s new lockdown even work?

While the exceptions to the lockdown rules are very limited, they do still exist. Unvaccinated people are allowed to leave their residences to go work, grocery shopping, exercise, get vaccinated, or be tested for COVID-19.

Those exceptions and a few other loopholes do offer enough leeway for some to exploit. This could affect the efficiency of the entire concept.

Austria finds itself in a complicated situation. The fourth wave is hitting the country hard, and at the same time, the previous measures have not been really effective.

A few observers have said if this does not work, a fourth national lockdown may be the only real tool left.

The country’s leaders have said on different occasions that they would do everything in their power to avoid such a scenario.

They also have to compose with a growing backlash against lockdown rules. In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party intends to use the controversy to its advantage.

It has already promised a big protest for Saturday. Moreover, it plans to challenge the government on the legality of this ban.

Germany may follow Austria

It looks like Germany might follow the same path as Austria in the upcoming weeks if the situation does not improve.

A vote has even been set on a similar measure in the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament.

If the process succeeds, Germans will need proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test just to take the bus or ride a train.

Great Britain is taking a different route and is encouraging the population to get vaccine boosters. France had put the same tactic in place. Greece is also dealing with a massive increase in new cases.

So far, Spain and Portugal have avoided the brunt of the new wave.

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