Austria to mandate vaccines, lockdown as COVID-19 cases rise

Virus Outbreak Austria COVID-19
Posted at 1:20 PM, Nov 19, 2021

VIENNA — Austria has announced a national lockdown and a plan to mandate vaccinations as coronavirus infections hit a record high.

The rising cases are forcing the government to walk back promises that strict shutdowns were a thing of the past.

While the scope of the proposed vaccine mandate was unclear, a blanket requirement for shots would be a first for a Western country.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said those who didn’t comply would likely be fined but gave no other details. The moves come as vaccinations in Austria have plateaued at one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

Hospitals in heavily hit states have warned that their intensive care units are reaching capacity.

Austria's decision to bring back restrictions comes a day after officials in Austria's neighbors to the northwest, Germany, warned that the country could be in for a "terrible Christmas" if additional steps aren't taken to control the virus.