Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced on Sunday a national lockdown, starting next week, for anyone who has not been vaxxed against COVID-19.
Unvaccinated people will only be able to leave their homes for basic needs, such as going to work, doing groceries, or visiting a doctor.
The decision to impose the lockdown was taken by the government and heads of Austria’s federal states.
“It’s our job as the government of Austria to protect the people… Therefore we decided that starting Monday… there will be a lockdown for the unvaccinated.”
The restrictions will come into force early on Monday, Schallenberg said. He added that police will monitor compliance with the restrictive measures and offenders will face punishment.
The new measure affects around 2 million people out of Austria’s 8.9 million population, according to the APA news agency. The lockdown does not apply to under 12s as they are not eligible to be inoculated against COVID-19 under state law.
Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe; only 65 percent of its population have been fully jabbed. The nation has seen a surge in the new infections over the past weeks, with more than 13,152 cases being registered on Saturday, compared to 9,943 cases a week ago on 6 November.
The news of the looming lockdown has triggered nationwide protests, with hundreds marching through Salzburg on Saturday against the “lying media” and the government’s plans.