Austria, a country of 8.9 million, plans to become the first country in Europe to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all eligible people, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday. For the past seven days, the country reported more than 10,000 new infection cases daily. For the instant, a national lockdown was also announced. It starts Monday, will last for 10 days minimum and could be extended for a further 10 days. “We don’t want a fifth wave. We don’t want a sixth and seventh wave. We don’t want to have this discussion next summer,” Schallenberg said. Once it goes into effect in February, Austria’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate will be the most stringent measure to control the coronavirus through vaccination yet seen in Europe.
Previously, from November 15, the unvaccinated were ordered to stay at home except for a few limited reasons. Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said Friday that schools and kindergartens would remain open during the upcoming national lockdown. Employees could request the option of working from home where possible. Neighboring Germany also announced plans Thursday to introduce targeted Covid-19 restrictions on the unvaccinated. Lothar Wieler, head of Germany’s disease and control center, said the country had never seen such high rates of infection as now in the whole of the pandemic.