News & Politics

'You Will Not Leave': Austria Returns to Lockdowns

Photo/Ronald Zak

If you’re living in Austria and haven’t been vaccinated, hunker down: draconian COVID-19 lockdowns have returned.

Beginning today, unvaccinated residents over age 12 cannot leave their homes unless headed directly to work or purchasing essential items.

The lockdown is planned for at least 10 days and will not apply to those vaccinated against coronavirus or those who have recently recovered from it.

“In reality, we have told one-third of the population: You will not leave your apartment anymore apart from for certain reasons,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Sunday. “That is a massive reduction in contacts between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.”

This stems from Europe, despite all its authoritarian mandates, resuming its role as the epicenter of the global pandemic, prompting governments to reimpose unpopular lockdowns.

Related: Should We ‘Live More Like Europeans’? Of Course Not.

Austria has one of the continent’s highest infection rates, with a seven-day range of 815 cases per 100,000 people.

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer also warned that police will be checking people’s vaccination status. Anyone disobeying the lockdown can be fined up to €1,500 Euros, which is a hefty sum.

This sure makes me want to abide by Allison Schrager’s recent Bloomberg column, urging us to be more like those wonderful Europeans.

The lockdown effectively extends and increases the restrictions Austria introduced Nov. 5 that banned any unvaccinated citizen from visiting restaurants, hotels, theaters, and other public venues.

The heavy-handed edict affects about one-third of Austrians.

Of the roughly 9 million residents in Austria, approximately 6 million have received their first vaccine dose, while about 5.3 million residents are fully vaccinated, according to information from the World Health Organization.

Austria is the first European country to reinstate similar restrictions to those applied during national lockdowns before COVID-19 vaccines were available.