Austria lockdown 2021: new Covid rules explained, travel restrictions, and why is vaccination rate so low?

Austria has imposed a new lockdown for winter as a result of rising Covid-19 cases and low vaccination rates - but what exactly are the new rules?

Austria has announced a countrywide lockdown which will begin on 23 November. (Credit: Getty)

Austria has imposed a new winter lockdown for all citizens amid rising Covid-19 cases in the country.

A lockdown for unvaccinated people had previously been enforced, with the Austrian government extending this to include all citizens in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

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But what do the rules mean for people in the country? And why is the vaccination rate so low in Austria?

What are the new Covid-19 lockdown rules in Austria?

A new country-wide lockdown has been imposed for all citizens, vaccinated and unvaccinated, which is due to start on Monday (22 November).

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg had previously announced a lockdown across the country which only applied to those unvaccinated, but this has now been extended.

Citizens will be asked to work from home where possible, non-essential shops will close.

However, schools will remain open for children who need face-to-face learning.

Schallenberg has said that the new lockdown will last a maximum of 20 days, with a review after 10 days.

Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (middle) has announced the new restrictions in a move he called “painful”. (Credit: Getty)

Can I travel from the UK to Austria during the new lockdown?

Currently, there are no changes to restrictions around travelling from the UK to Austria.

Those fully vaccinated and who can show proof of this do not need to self-isolate after arriving in Austria from the UK. Despite there being no requirement to self-isolate when fully-vaccinated, everyone traveling to Austria must abide by the local lockdown rules.

For those who are not fully vaccinated or cannot provide evidence of being fully vaccinated, you must present a negative Covid test, complete a pre-travel clearance form no longer than 72 hours before entering the country and a self-isolation period of 10 days will be in place upon your arrival.

In line with countrywide lockdown rules, anyone in Austria will not be able to leave their home or accomodation except for essential reasons such as buying food or travelling to work.

Restaurants, bars, cafes and other similar venues will all be closed, as will tourist attractions.

Planned cultural events, such as Christmas markets, will also be closed.

Why has the Austrian Government introduced a new lockdown?

The new lockdown has been announced amid surging cases and low vaccination rates in the country.

Austria has seen a record number of cases in the past week, with Schallenberg saying: “We don’t want a fifth wave. Nor do we want a sixth or seventh wave.

“This is very painful.”

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The decision to reintroduce firm lockdown rules have not been popular with the Austrian public.

Protests broke out in Vienna against the new rules, with thousands in attendance to voice their opposition to the re-introduced rules.

It comes as protests and demonstrations took place across Europe, including in Brussels and the Netherlands, against the rising threat of a restrictions being re-introduced.

How many cases of Covid-19 are there in Austria?

Latest figures show that Austria, who has a population of just under nine million people, has had a rate of 971.5 cases per 100,000 people, which is increasing by the day.

15,809 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, marking a record high for the country.

What are the vaccination rates in Austria and why are they so low?

Austria currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe.

Latest figures show that only 66% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.

Schellenberg has said that the lower vaccination rates in Austria is due to “too many political forces, flimsy vaccination opponents and fake news.”

He has also announced that to curb thelow vaccination rates, there will be a legal requirement for those eligible to be vaccinated, which will come into force on 1 February 2022.

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Will the UK impose a winter lockdown?

Rising cases across Europe have caused concern for the UK.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reiterated there are no current plans for a winter lockdown despite fears as “storm clouds” gather over a “new wave” of Covid-19 in Europe.

Instead, the UK will use the vaccination and vaccination booster programme as the main line of defence against the virus.

Speaking earlier this week, Johnson said: “We don’t yet know the extent to which this new wave will sweep up on our shores, but history shows that we cannot afford to be complacent.

“Those countries with lower vaccination rates have tended to see bigger surges in infection and in turn been forced to respond with harsher measures while those countries with higher vaccination rates have so far fared better.

“It shows us that if we want to control the epidemic here in the UK and if we want to avoid restrictions on our daily lives we must all get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible.”

He also said that a winter lockdown was not currently being considered, adding: “I see nothing in the data at the moment that makes me think we have to go to further measures.”

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