Austria bans unvaccinated from restaurants as COVID-19 cases rise
- Government expects record number of daily infections soon
- Vaccination is one of the worst in Western Europe
- The ban includes hotels, events of 25+ people and ski lifts
VIENNA, Nov. 5 (Reuters) – Austria said on Friday it was banning people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from entering cafes, restaurants and hairdressers as infections approach the record set there is one year old and the government is struggling to convince the recalcitrant to get vaccinated.
About 64% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is the European Union average but one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. Many Austrians are skeptical of vaccines, as are the far-right Freedom Party, the third party in parliament.
New daily infections increased and reached 9,388 on Friday, close to the high of 9,586 set a year ago. The government has said it expects a new record in the coming days.
“The development is exceptional and the occupancy rate of intensive care beds is increasing significantly faster than expected,” Conservative Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said at a press conference on the new measures starting on Monday.
These include banning unvaccinated hotels, events with more than 25 people and, which is important for a country which is a major winter sports center, ski lifts.
There will be a four-week transition period during which a first vaccination and PCR test will allow admission to places where the unvaccinated will be banned. After that, only people who are fully vaccinated and those who have recently recovered from a coronavirus infection will be admitted.
Friday’s announcement comes a day after a similar move by the city of Vienna, which has the lowest infection rate among Austria’s nine provinces but the highest proportion of intensive care beds occupied by COVID-patients. 19 to 20%. Read more
While those who dine at the restaurant will have to show that they have been vaccinated, the waiters who serve them will not.
“One is a voluntary leisure activity. No one is forcing me to go to the movies or to a restaurant. The other is my workplace,” Schallenberg said.
Report by François Murphy; Editing by Jan Harvey and Alistair Bell
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