Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced in a press conference Friday that COVID-19 vaccination will become mandatory for everyone beginning February 1, 2022. As the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hits Western Europe, Austria is the first country to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory.
Austria is one of the top four countries to have the highest rate of new cases in the past week, as 27 out of the 29 countries with the highest rate of cases are in Europe. Last Thursday, Austria recorded 15,145 new cases of COVID-19. Those who refuse to get vaccinated may face a fine of up to $4000. Those who refuse to take booster shots will be fined up to $1500.
Currently, those who are not vaccinated are not allowed to leave their homes for nonessential purposes. However, the new rules would increase restrictions on those vaccinated as well. Austrian police are conducting random checks on the vaccination status of people above 12 years of age.
At present 65 percent of the Austrian population has been vaccinated, although government officials regard this as “shamefully low.” Austria has one of the lowest vaccine rates in Western Europe, only above Liechtenstein.