Austria is imposing a new nationwide lockdown from Monday on people not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or recently recovered from the disease, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Sunday.
Those affected will be told to stay at home except for essential trips like for work or shopping. The decision is expected to impact some 2 million people from the population of 9 million.
The decision comes as the country grapples with its highest rates of infection since the pandemic began. On Saturday, Austria reported over 13,000 new cases. Meanwhile, its vaccination rate at 63 percent is below the EU average and far behind countries such as Portugal, Malta and Spain which are above 80 percent.
“We have to raise the vaccination quota,” Schallenberg said. “Help us break this fourth wave.”
Speaking at the same news conference, Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said the measures were needed to ease pressure on health services. “We all have one goal: to protect the intensive care units,” he said.
The nationwide lockdown follows a decision Friday to impose restrictions for the unvaccinated in the region of Upper Austria