Austria becomes first European nation to announce vaccine mandate, reimposes lockdown

The EU has seen rising case-rates of the novel virus over the last several weeks

Updated: November 19, 2021 - 8:34am

Austria is now the first country in Europe to impose a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible people as the country's pandemic status collapses. 

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday that his government would, in addition to imposing a vaccine mandate, send the nation back into lockdown beginning Monday and lasting for at least 10 days. The vaccine mandate will go into effect on February 1.

Austria has a roughly 65% vaccination rate, one of the lowest in the European Union, where cases have again begun to surge.  Just days ago, Austria took the unprecedented step of imposing lockdown measures against residents 12 and older who are not fully vaccinated.

Schools have remained opened during the lockdown, though Schallenberg says parents can opt to take their children out of school. But the unvaccinated have been ordered to stay at home except for a few limited reasons. Law enforcement has been conducting spot checks on individuals who are out. 

Just across the border, Germany has also announced plans to introduce more targeted COVID restrictions for unvaccinated residents, as the country attempts to tackle rising infection levels.