A Full Lockdown Will be Imposed Until December 13th.
Austria has announced it will return to a full lockdown on Monday the 22nd of November. The restrictions are set to last until December 13th, but could be as short as 10 days, before returning to the current restrictions.
The measures have been enacted to help counter the country’s recent surge in COVID infections. It is the country’s fourth lockdown since the pandemic began.
During this time, most non-essential business will be forced to close. This includes hotels, restaurants, and bars. All cultural events will be cancelled over the course of the lockdown, including the country’s famous Christmas markets.
Residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for certain reasons, including grocery shopping and healthcare appointments.
As hotels will close on Monday, travelers currently in Austria are strongly advised to arrange travel home. Anyone with current travel booked should immediately contact their travel provider or airline directly to rearrange or cancel plans.
The decision to enter a full lockdown was not an easy one for the Austrian government. It marks a backtrack in statements made earlier this year that full lockdowns are a thing of the past for the vaccinated. Just days ago, they imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated, but have felt it necessary to extend it to the entire population.
Austria have been struggling with infections in the past few weeks. On Friday, they recorded over 15,000 new infections which is an all time daily high. Their vaccination rate is one of the lowest in Western Europe, with just under 66% of the population being administered with a full dosage. This, combined with seasonal effects, is being attributed to the current surge.
They have also brought in a compulsory vaccination rule to counter the issue, mandating that everyone must have completed a full cycle by February 1st. Those who refuse will be met with a fine, but no other details have been given regarding the process. If fully enacted, it would be one of the strictest COVID related rules worldwide.
Austrian Chancellor Schallenberg said of the mandate, “For a long time the political consensus was that we don’t want a vaccine mandate in this country. But we have to look reality in the eye. For a long time, maybe too long, me and others thought that it must be possible to convince people in Austria, to convince them to get vaccinated voluntarily. Increasing the vaccination rate — and I think we’re all in agreement on this — is our only way to break out of this vicious cycle of viral waves and lockdown discussions for good”
The country had opened to tourism in 2021, but was also one of the first countries to impose a vaccine validity period. This meant that any visitor to the country had to show proof of vaccination, but it was administered more than 270 days before entry, a test or proof of recovery had to be shown in addition.
Currently, residents use a “green pass” to allow entry to restaurants or other organized events. The pass is only available after full vaccination, recent recovery, or with a negative test result in the past 72 hours.
Just across the border in Germany, Bavaria is struggling with similar COVID surges. Full lockdowns have not been reimposed in the country, but some areas with particularly high infection rates are looking at temporary restrictions as well. Travelers are strongly advised to keep up to date with all countries’ shifting policies to avoid problems.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com