Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

As the infection rate is on record, those without a single dose are banned from cafes, hairdressers and attending mass events.

Austria, which has an increasing coronavirus case load and is struggling to persuade a significant number of people to be vaccinated, has introduced new physical distance measures.

Unvaccinated people will be barred from entering restaurants, cafes and hairdressers from Monday and will not be able to attend major public events.

The restrictions, announced Friday, come because the number of cases of coronavirus surpasses last year’s record.

About 64 percent of Austria’s 8.9 million population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is in line with the European Union average but one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

Many Austrians are skeptical about vaccines, as is the far-right Freedom Party, the third largest party in parliament.

Austria’s national health agency registered 9,899 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, more than its previous record of 9,586 last year.

As of Saturday, the infection rate had risen to 599.6 cases per 100,000 residents, up from 365.9 cases per 100,000 seven days earlier, according to government figures.

“It is simply our responsibility to protect the people in our country,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters on Friday, noting the number of cases and increasing overwhelming hospital intensive care units (ICUs).

‘moral responsibility’

The government is planning a transition period of four weeks to encourage the unvaccinated to get shots.

During that time, anyone who has received one vaccine dose and has a negative result of a valid RT-PCR test will be allowed to attend events of more than 25 people and enter hotels, restaurants and cafes.

After four weeks, only those who have been fully vaccinated or who have recently recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed to do so.

If the situation continues to worsen, further restrictions on unvaccinated people may be on the horizon.

Schallenberg said last month that if capacity at ICUs fills up to one-third, the government will enforce lock-in restrictions for residents who remain unvaccinated.

The 52-year-old called on all Austrians to be vaccinated and said it was their “moral responsibility”.

Vienna to vaccinate children

Meanwhile, authorities in the capital, Vienna, have announced that they will help vaccinate children as young as five against COVID-19 without official EU approval, The New York Times (NYT) reported last week.

Under the proposal, doctors will start using the shot manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech for children under the age of 12 from November 12.

Up to 200 children will be able to be stabbed every day in 34 vaccination centers run by city authorities, the NYT reported, citing a municipal spokesman.

The spokesman said Vienna was prepared to expand the program if demand for jabs appeared high.

The EU’s drug regulator has not yet approved the deployment of any COVID vaccine for those under 12 years of age.

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