Austrian police conduct random checks to enforce Covid lockdowns for the unvaccinated

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  • Non-vaccinated people who violate lockdown rules face fines of up to 500 euros ($567), and anyone who refuses to comply with vaccination status checks can be fined 1,450 euros.
  • The latest restrictions apply to all people over the age of 12 who have not received two doses of the vaccine.
  • Those who have recently recovered from the virus are exempted from the restrictions.

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Austria has imposed fresh lockdown measures on nearly 2 million unvaccinated people, with individuals facing fines if they fail to follow the rules.

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People who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have returned under lockdown since Monday, with federal police stopping people in public places to check their vaccination status.

Non-vaccinated people who violate lockdown rules face fines of up to 500 euros ($567), and anyone who refuses to comply with vaccination status checks can be fined 1,450 euros.

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The latest restrictions apply to all people over the age of 12 who have not received two doses of the vaccine. Those who have recently recovered from the virus are exempted from the restrictions.

Full proof of vaccination is required to visit public places such as restaurants, hair salons and Christmas markets. In Vienna, children over the age of six must show a negative COVID test result to be allowed to enter these public places.

Only vaccinations approved by Europe’s medical regulators – Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Vaccines – will be accepted by Austrian authorities when it comes to proving vaccination status. Vaccination greatly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death.

Over the weekend, new cases of the virus in Austria rose to an all-time high of 13,152 in a single day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Monday, 11,889 new infections were registered in the country.

About 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated, giving the country the second lowest vaccination rate in Western Europe after Liechtenstein.

Announcing the new lockdown restrictions at a news conference on Sunday, Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schellenberg said the rules would be “very constantly monitored and approved” by police officers.

“The coronavirus situation in Austria is grim and the fourth wave is catching us very seriously. The number of new infections in Austria is higher than before,” he told reporters. “Vaccination is the only way to break this vicious cycle of the pandemic.”

Interior Minister Karl Nehmer said on Twitter on Tuesday that about 15,000 police investigations were conducted across Austria on Monday alone.

“About 120 violations were found and punished,” he said, adding that the public has shown a high level of cooperation with the authorities.

Despite lawmakers’ belief that Austrian police are on hand to ensure the lockdown is adhered to, the policy has been criticized as difficult to implement.

Unvaccinated people are still allowed to leave their homes for a variety of reasons, such as grocery shopping, traveling to work, provided they test negative for the virus, or participating in religious practices.

The lockdown is also facing resistance from Austria’s third-largest political party, the right-wing Freedom Party, which has called the move “a corona apartheid system” and planned a protest against sanctions in Vienna on Saturday.

Party leader Herbert Kickl said on Facebook on Monday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would remain in quarantine for the event.

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