Austria to bar unvaccinated from restaurants as cases rise

Health

VIENNA (AP) — Unvaccinated people in Austria who also haven’t had COVID-19 will no longer be allowed to enter restaurants, hotels and hair salons or attend public events larger than 25 people under new rules that take effect Monday, the government said.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg outlined the rules Friday night after a meeting with state-level leaders to discuss the country’s response to rapidly rising coronavirus cases.

“It is simply our responsibility to protect the people in our country,” Schallenberg told reporters, noting the case numbers and increasingly full hospital intensive care units.

Previously, people could enter restaurants, hotels and other areas if they were vaccinated, had recovered from the virus or could show results from a negative test.

The government is planning a transition period for the first four weeks to encourage the unvaccinated to get shots. During that time, anyone who has received one vaccine dose and has results from a valid PCR test will be allow to attend events and enter the listed types of locations.

After four weeks, only people who are fully vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed entry.

The capital city of Vienna announced similar restrictions earlier this week.

Austria reported a pandemic high of 9,923 new confirmed coronavirus cases Saturday, surpassing its previous record of 9,586 last year. In the last seven days, the infection rate rose from 317.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to 522.4 cases per 100,000.

If the situation continues to worsen, further restrictions on unvaccinated people could be on the horizon. Schallenberg said last month that if ICU’s fill to one-third of the total capacity, the government would implement lockdown restrictions for residents who remain unvaccinated.

Currently, 66.7% percent of Austria’s population has received one dose of vaccine and 64.5% is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. The Austrian government announced this week that all adults are eligible for booster shots, if six months have elapsed since their last dose.

Schallenberg called again on unvaccinated Austrians to get the vaccine, calling it a “moral responsibility.”

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