Feb 4, 2022 - World

"Path to freedom": Austria signs sweeping COVID vaccine mandate into law

Picture of a person getting vaccinated

Photo: ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images

Austria on Friday became the first country in the European Union to legally mandate that all adults get vaccinated against COVID-19, CNN reports.

The big picture: Those without vaccine proof or an exemption face an initial fine of up to up to 600 euros (around $680). Authorities are expected to begin checking people's vaccine status March 15, per The Guardian.

  • Individuals could be fined up to four times a year. The law will last until Jan. 31, 2024.
  • Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen signed the legislation into law, a day after it was approved by the country's parliament, CNN reported.

State of play: Pregnant people and those who cannot be inoculated because it could endanger their health are exempt from the mandate, per CNN.

  • People who have been recently infected are also exempt, but only for the 180 days after the received their first positive COVID-19 test.

What they're saying: "The path to freedom is the vaccine mandate," said Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, when the law was being debated in the parliament last month, per the New York Times.

By the numbers: Austria has reported more than 2 million COVID cases as of Friday, according to government data.

What to watch: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is pushing for a COVID vaccine mandate.

  • A vote for it is expected at the end of March, per CNN.
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