The Austrian authorities have imposed a nationwide lockdown after a spike up in the number of cases not only in Austria but also further in Europe.
The decision was announced by Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, who said that the lockdown would last for a period of 20 days from November 22 to December 13, though the same will be reviewed after ten days and removed if the situation improves.
“We don’t want a fifth wave,” the Chancellor said upon a meeting of the governors of Austria’s nine provinces yesterday.
At the same time, the country is set to impose a legal vaccination mandate from February 1, 2022, becoming the first country in the world to make vaccination mandatory.
The lockdown means that travel to Austria will not be possible for a period of 20 days unless for absolutely essential purposes.
“In Austria, due to the current Coronavirus infection situation, a temporary lockdown will come into effect from November 22 until December 13 at the latest. Travel to Austria for touristic purposes will only be possible again after this period,” Austria’s official travel website notes.
The decision follows a prior one by the Austrian authorities to no longer accept COVID-19 antigen tests for entering the country or having access to indoor areas.
Moreover, the country has also decided to put an end to the validity of vaccination certificates, which means that from December 6, vaccination certificates that prove that the holder has taken two vaccine doses will be valid for nine months only.
“Two-dose-vaccinations are valid for nine months only after the second dose from December 6 (previously: 12 months),” the Austrian authorities note.
Data by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that Austria has reported 994 new cases per 100,000 residents within the last seven days, which figure is much higher than in the majority of other EU countries.
Other countries in the block with high rates of infections for 100,000 residents within the last seven days are also Slovenia (1,096), Croatia (897), Slovakia (846), and the Netherlands (723).
All these countries, in spite of the high COVID-19 numbers, have high vaccination rates. Currently, in Austria, 69.3 per cent of the total population have been vaccinated against COVID-19, while the rates are much higher in some countries like Portugal, where 87.9 per cent of the total population have been vaccinated against the virus.
However, the situation is not good in countries with higher vaccination rates either, and in a bid to prevent the situation from escalating further, the EU member states are imposing more stringent restrictions, in particular on travel from abroad.