Austria’s New Covid Mandate for the Unvaccinated


Cole Mago, Staff Writer

Alexander Schallenberg, the Austrian chancellor, announced on Sunday, November 14, that the unvaccinated will be put into a lockdown that will begin on Monday, November 15. This news comes a week after businesses were required to check for proof of vaccination, and after the chancellor said that a lockdown for the unvaccinated is “probably inevitable.”


Austria has “shamefully low vaccination rates,” chancellor Schallenberg stated in a press conference on Sunday.


The unvaccinated will only be able to leave their homes for basic needs such as going to the doctors, going to work, getting groceries, or getting vaccinated. The mandate will apply to all Austrian citizens over the age of 11 who have not received the Covid-19 vaccine yet and is planned to last for a scheduled 10 days. People who have recently recovered from the virus will be excluded from the group of people who will be affected by the lockdown.


With a record-shattering 13,000 new cases reported each day, Austria is becoming one of Europe’s Covid hotspots, again as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. And with less than 65% of the country being fully vaccinated, it is one of the least fully vaccinated countries in Europe. Neighboring countries are like France and Germany are significantly higher in their vaccination rates. Covid cases amongst the unvaccinated are raising more and more every day, while the Covid cases amongst the vaccinated are decreasing each day. The recent surge in Covid cases is said to be likely due to the amount of eastern European travelers who are, for the majority, unvaccinated. This surge in cases is also troublesome to the US who has just recently reopened its borders with Europe.  


Members of political parties in Austria, including the police, have raised concerns about the ability to enforce such a mandate. Saying that it would be much too difficult because it only applies to a portion of the population. Far-right conservatives of Austria have argued that imposing these mandates will create a group of “second class citizens”. But the government ensures that it will be very constantly controlled.


Austria isn’t taking this step lightly either. Individuals caught breaking this new mandate by entering restricted areas such as retail shops, leisure spaces, or social gatherings will be fined up to 500 euros ($572). Businesses will be fined even greater with the minimum being 3,000 euros. Police are said to be stopping anyone and everyone, so even vaccinated people shouldn’t leave their homes without carrying proof of vaccination. Even before this new mandate, unvaccinated people were still granted less Covid-freedom by not being able to enter into restaurants with 25 or more people, hairdressers, and movie theaters.


This news does not come without backlash, there have already been protests in front of the chancellery in the capital, Vienna, of people against the mandates and lockdowns. Protesters waving banners and chanting, “Our bodies, our freedom to decide.” As the new mandates were being announced, these crowds gathered came out to protest them.