Nov 19, 2021 - World

Austria to enter national COVID lockdown

A health care worker tending to a COVID-19 patient in a hospital in Salzburg, Austria, on Nov. 17.
A health care worker tending to a COVID-19 patient in a hospital in Salzburg, Austria, on Nov. 17. Photo: Barbara Gindl/APA/AFP via Getty Images

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Friday that the country will enter a national lockdown beginning Monday that will last at least 10 days in an attempt to head off a fourth wave of coronavirus cases.

Why it matters: It's the first European country to re-enter a lockdown since the spring. Cases in the country have started to rise in part because of deep skepticism among many Austrians about vaccines.

By the numbers: The country has reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days, which has overwhelmed hospitals, according to AP.

  • Only around 65% of the population of 8.9 million are fully vaccinated.

What they're saying: "We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated," Schallenberg said, according to a translation from Reuters. "It hurts that such measures still have to be taken."

  • "Too many among us have not shown enough solidarity. I ask you all to help. Take part, support these measures, let us try to reduce our social contacts for a maximum of 20 days so that the Christmas holidays are protected," he added.

The big picture: The country initially started a lockdown for people who are not fully vaccinated this week, though cases continued to rise.

  • During the lockdown starting Monday, all schools and most stores will be closed and all cultural events will be canceled.
  • The government also announced that it will make vaccinations mandatory starting Feb. 1, according to AP.

Go deeper: World gets tough on the unvaccinated

Go deeper