After announcing a lockdown for unvaccinated people on Monday, Austria has now shifted to impose a full national lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge.
Speaking at a media conference on Friday, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced a full lockdown that will start on Monday and will run for a maximum of 20 days, according to the newspaper Kronen Zeitung.
Schallenberg also stated that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory from February next year, making Austria the first European country to take this action.
Around 70 percent of Austria’s population have received the COVID-19 vaccine, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. The Chancellor suggested the government was reluctant to bring in these new measures, but efforts to fully vaccinate the population have been hampered by “political forces, flimsy anti-vaccination opponents, and fake news.”
“We have not managed to get enough unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. The most recent measures have increased daily vaccinations but not enough," Schallenberg said, according to Politico. "For a long time, it was consensus in the country that a vaccine mandate is not necessary, but we have to face reality."
A new wave of COVID-19 cases is currently engulfing much of Europe with some countries seeing a large number of cases. Germany is particularly feeling the sting, seeing levels of infection not seen since the pandemic began. Earlier this week, they said they were discussing stricter measures for non-vaccinated people. Last week, the Netherlands also announced it would be going back into a three-week nationwide partial lockdown after hospitals threatened to be overwhelmed by rising cases.