News World Austria imposes lockdown for unvaccinated as Europe cases surge
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Austria imposes lockdown for unvaccinated as Europe cases surge

Anti-vaxxers protested in Vienna, the same day Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg unvaccinated people must lockdown. Photo: Getty
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Austria is taking a stand against people who have not been protected against the coronavirus, announcing unvaccinated people must lockdown.

About two million people are expected to be forced to stay home from Monday amid record infection levels and growing pressure on hospitals.

“We are not taking this step lightly but it is necessary,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

Last week, the World Health Organisation warned Europe had again become the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic as doctors urged more people to get vaccinated.

About 65 per cent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in western Europe.

On Sunday (local time), protesters marched in the streets of Vienna holding placards declaring they would not obey vaccine mandates as the far-right Freedom Party said the lockdown would create a group of second-class

That did not deter the government from proceeding with the new rules for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people, including children aged over 12.

From midnight Sunday, unvaccinated people must not leave home except to go to work, shop for good, exercise – or to get vaccinated.

The BBC reports that police will make spot checks in public spaces to determine people’s vaccination status.

Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said the restrictions would initially last 10 days.

Meanwhile, in Germany – where Health Minister Jens Spahn has warned of a pandemic of the unvaccinated – the federal government and state leaders will meet to discus possible restrictions.

The cumulative case count of coronavirus infections in Germany has passed the five-million mark, according to official figures released early Monday.

The Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases reported 33,498 cases on Sunday, bringing the national total to 5,021,469 since the pandemic first arrived in Germany.

Additionally, the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 people hit 289.0, yet another record.

Political and health officials are warning Germans that they could face harsh weeks ahead after the explosion of cases.

However, political leaders will not meet until Thursday to hammer out how they will update their approach to the disease.

In the Netherlands, a “lockdown-lite” for the unvaccinated is underway  to limit social contacts in response to a sharp increase in infections.

Measures include early closing for restaurants and shops and barring spectators from sporting events.

Head of Germany’s Marburger Bund doctors’ association, Susanne Johna, said: “I have never been as worried during this pandemic as I am now.”

The uptick in Germany is a particular shock as, in the first 18 months of the global pandemic, it was often cited as one of the countries that had controlled the spread of the disease particularly well.

But now, hospitals warn they are running out of capacity and space to help patients.