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Austria imposes COVID lockdown on those not immunized against COVID

People visit the newly opened "Christkindlmarkt" Christmas market, at the square in front of Vienna's city hall, on November 12, 2021, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP)
People visit the newly opened "Christkindlmarkt" Christmas market, at the square in front of Vienna's city hall, on November 12, 2021, during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Georg Hochmuth/APA/AFP)

VIENNA — Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg says that a nationwide lockdown will begin tomorrow for those not vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently recovered, as the EU member fights a record surge in cases.

Around 65 percent of Austria’s almost nine million people are vaccinated, below the EU average of 67 percent, while daily increases in infections have hit records this week.

“The situation is serious… We don’t take this step with a light heart but unfortunately it is necessary,” Schallenberg tells reporters.

The lockdown means people over 12 who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered will not be allowed to leave the house except for reasons such as buying essential supplies, exercise or seeking medical care.

The lockdowns across the Alpine country are to be enforced with random spot checks for the next 10 days. After that it will be reviewed, Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein says.

Parliament — controlled by Schallenberg’s conservative-Green coalition — is expected to approve the measure later today.

Schallenberg and Mueckstein call again on those who have not yet been vaccinated to get the shot.

Also starting tomorrow, Vienna is becoming the first region in the EU to offer shots to children from the age of five to 11 at a vaccination center in the Austrian capital.

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