Austria bans the unvaccinated against Covid-19 in cafes amid spike in new cases

Austria said on Friday it is banning those who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 from entering cafes, restaurants and hair salons as infections approach the record set a year ago and the government struggles to convince those who resist. to receive the vaccine.

About 64 percent of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, 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.

Daily new infections have risen, rising to 9,388 on Friday, close to the record of 9,586 set a year ago, when the second of three national closures were introduced.

“The evolution is exceptional and the occupancy of intensive care beds is increasing significantly faster than we expected,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a press conference on the new measures that will take effect on Monday.

These include excluding the unvaccinated from hotels and events of more than 25 people.

The number of COVID-19 cases is increasing across Europe at the moment, but there is a pronounced problem in Central and Eastern Europe, where the vaccination rate is also below the European average.

– Liam Hoare (@lahoare) November 5, 2021

There will be a four-week transition period in which a first vaccination plus a PCR test will allow admission to places where the unvaccinated will be banned. After that, only those who are fully vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection will be allowed in.

Friday’s announcement by the Conservative-led government comes a day after a similar move by the Social Democratic-led city of Vienna, which has the lowest infection rate among Austria’s nine provinces, but the percentage highest number of intensive care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients. at 20 percent.

The New York Times reported Friday that the city of Vienna will help vaccinate five-year-old children against Covid-19 without official EU approval in what the newspaper said appeared to be the first systematic vaccination program for children. organized by a government body. While US regulators approved Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages five to 11, initiating vaccines for that age group in the United States this week, the European Medicines Agency’s decision on the matter is still pending. .

( Jowhar with REUTERS)

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