The Austrian government is set to impose strict stay-at-home orders for the country’s 3.1 million residents not fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said, citing a “shamefully low” inoculation rate.
The chancellor spoke out during a press conference on Thursday, saying that the lockdown was part of the September pandemic response plan, which relies heavily upon intensive care beds capacity. According to Reuters, the measures will take effect when 30% of ICU beds are occupied by Covid patients. They currently stand at 20% but they are rapidly rising.
“According to the incremental plan, we actually have just days until we have to introduce the lockdown for unvaccinated people,”Schallenberg stated that these restrictions were necessary to protect the environment. “one cannot leave one’s home unless one is going to work, shopping (for essentials), stretching one’s legs – namely exactly what we all had to suffer through in 2020.”
I don’t see why two-thirds should lose their freedom because one-third is dithering. It is obvious to me that the unvaccinated should not be locked down out of solidarity.
Around 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, in line with averages across the European Union, though on the lower end for Western Europe and deemed “shamefully low”By Schallenberg. Only 35% of the remaining people have received their full rounds, so it will be a total lockdown that affects around 3.1 Million.
The new restrictions, if imposed on the chancellor’s timeline, would come just a week or so after the federal government announced sweeping entry bans for the unvaccinated, effectively barring them from public life, including at bars, restaurants, cafes, theaters, hotels and – significant in the Alpine nation – ski lodges. The bans went into effect on Monday. However, the government gave a transition period of four weeks during which unvaccinated people could present negative tests for the virus. However, with ICU capacity steadily falling, it is possible that the tighter lockdown will make these measures irrelevant.
Later on Thursday, the country’s worst-hit region, Upper Austria province, said it would look to the national government for legal permission to proceed with its own lockdown in the coming days regardless of what federal officials decide to do for the entire country. If Governor Thomas Stelzer is granted the go-ahead, he will outline plans for the non-vaccinated to be forced to remain at home beginning next Monday.
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