COVID: Austria bans unvaccinated people from accessing public spaces | Coronavirus pandemic News
As the infection rate hits a record high, people without a single dose are banned from cafes, hairdressers and attending mass events.
Austria, which has a growing number of coronavirus cases and is struggling to convince significant numbers of people to get vaccinated, has implemented new physical distancing measures.
From Monday, unvaccinated people are prohibited from entering restaurants, cafes and hairdressers and will not be able to attend major public events.
The restrictions, announced on Friday, come as the number of coronavirus cases surpasses last year’s record.
About 64% of Austria’s 8.9 million people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is in line with the European Union average but one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.
Many Austrians are skeptical of vaccines, as are the far-right Freedom Party, the third party in parliament.
Austria’s national health agency recorded 9,899 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Friday, more than its previous record of 9,586 last year.
As of Saturday, the infection rate had risen to 599.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, against 365.9 cases per 100,000 seven days earlier, according to government figures.
“It is simply our responsibility to protect the people of our country,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters on Friday, noting the number of cases and the increasingly overwhelmed hospital intensive care units (ICUs).
The government is planning a four-week transition period to encourage unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.
During this time, anyone who has received a dose of vaccine and has a negative result on a valid RT-PCR test will be allowed to attend events of more than 25 people and enter hotels, restaurants and cafes.
After four weeks, only those who are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed to do so.
If the situation continues to worsen, further restrictions on unvaccinated people could loom on the horizon.
Schallenberg said last month that if the capacity of intensive care units reached a third, the government would enforce lockdown restrictions on residents who are not vaccinated.
The 52-year-old called on all Austrians to get vaccinated, saying it was their “moral responsibility”.
Vienna will vaccinate children
Meanwhile, authorities in the capital, Vienna, have announced that they will help immunize children as young as five against COVID-19 without official EU approval, The New York Times reported (NYT ) last week.
As part of the proposal, doctors will begin administering the use of the vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech to children under the age of 12 from November 12.
Up to 200 children will be able to receive a vaccine each day at 34 immunization centers run by municipal authorities, the NYT reported, citing a municipal spokesperson.
The spokesperson said Vienna was ready to expand the program if demand for jabs turned out to be high.
The EU medicines regulator has yet to authorize the deployment of any COVID vaccine for children under 12.