Austrian authorities imposed a nationwide lockdown after a spike in the number of cases not only in Austria but also in Europe.
The decision was announced by Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, who said the lockdown would last for 20 days from November 22 to December 13, although the same order would be reviewed ten days later and removed if the situation improved.
“We don’t want a fifth wave,” the chancellor said at a meeting of the governors of Austria’s nine provinces yesterday.
At the same time, the country is set to impose a legal mandate on vaccination from February 1, 2022, becoming the first country in the world to make vaccination mandatory.
The lockdown means that travel to Austria will only be possible for 20 days for absolutely essential purposes.
“In Austria, due to the current situation of coronavirus infection, the temporary closure will come into effect from November 22 until December 13 at the latest. Traveling to Austria for tourist purposes will only be possible again after this period,” notes Austria’s official travel website.
The decision follows an earlier decision by Austrian authorities not to accept COVID-19 antigen tests for entry into the country or access to the interior.
>> Austria now requires everyone, including tourists, to provide proof of vaccination or recovery when in public
Moreover, the country has also decided to end the validity of vaccination certificates, which means that from December 6, vaccination certificates proving that the holder has taken two doses of the vaccine will be valid for only nine months.
Austrian authorities note that “two-dose vaccinations are valid only for nine months after the second dose on December 6 (previously: 12 months)”.
World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that Austria has reported 994 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, a much higher number than in the majority of other EU countries.
Other countries in the block with high infection rates of 100,000 residents over the past seven days are also Slovenia (1096), Croatia (897), Slovakia (846) and the Netherlands (723).
All of these countries, despite high numbers of COVID-19, have high vaccination rates. Currently, in Austria, 69.3 percent of the total population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, while rates are much higher in some countries such as Portugal, where 87.9 percent of the total population has been vaccinated against the virus.
However, the situation is not good in countries with high vaccination rates either, and in an effort to prevent the situation from escalating further, EU member states are imposing stricter restrictions, particularly on travel from abroad.