The ruling prohibits unvaccinated people 12 years of age and older from leaving their homes, except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping, walking – or getting vaccinated.
Authorities are concerned about the increase in infections and deaths and that soon hospital staff will no longer be able to handle the growing influx of COVID-19 patients.
“It is our job as the Austrian government to protect the people,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters in Vienna on Sunday. “We therefore decided that from Monday (…) there would be confinement for the unvaccinated. “
The lockdown affects around 2 million people in the 8.9 million Alpine country, the APA news agency reported. It does not apply to children under 12 because they cannot yet be officially vaccinated.
The lockdown will initially last 10 days and police will patrol to check people outside to make sure they are vaccinated, Schallenberg said, adding that additional forces will be assigned to the patrols.
Unvaccinated people can be fined up to 1,450 euros ($ 1,660) if they violate the lockdown.
Austria has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe: only around 65% of the total population is fully vaccinated. In recent weeks, Austria has faced a worrying increase in infections. Authorities reported 11,552 new cases on Sunday; a week ago there were 8,554 new infections daily.
Deaths have also increased in recent weeks. On Sunday, 17 new deaths were reported. Overall, the death toll from the pandemic in Austria stands at 11,706, the APA reported.
The seven-day infection rate is 775.5 new cases per 100,000 population. By comparison, the rate is 289 in neighboring Germany, which has already sounded the alarm on the rising numbers.
Schallenberg pointed out that while the seven-day infection rate for those vaccinated has declined in recent days, the rate is rising rapidly for the unvaccinated.
“The rate for the unvaccinated is over 1,700, while for the vaccinated it is 383,” the Chancellor said.
Schallenberg also called on those vaccinated to get vaccinated, saying otherwise “we will never get out of this vicious cycle.”