Austria extends lockdown, mandates vaccinations
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Europe’s first nationwide vaccine mandate after the country reported record high COVID-19 cases on Friday. He also said high infection and death rates gave him no choice but to extend a lockdown to the vaccinated population, as well. Starting Monday, most restaurants, Christmas markets, and stores will close. Austria’s 8.9 million citizens will not be allowed to leave home except for essential duties like grocery shopping or outdoor exercise. Some schools will stay open, but parents are urged to keep their children at home. Beginning Feb. 1, Austria’s government will require all citizens to be fully vaccinated.
How severe are the infections? For the past week, Austria has reported more than 10,000 new cases every day, with 15,809 on Friday. Average daily deaths are still low but have tripled during the past three weeks. Roughly 66 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and the government started a campaign to vaccinate children earlier this week. Hospitals warned that their intensive care units will soon be full. Germany and the Netherlands have also reported surging infections and partial lockdowns.
Dig deeper: Read Mindy Belz’s report about international vaccine distribution.
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