Wien Austria is taking ever stricter measures against the fourth corona wave spreading in the country. A regional lockdown for unvaccinated people is now even planned. This should apply in the federal state of Upper Austria from next Monday.
Residents who have not yet been vaccinated against Covid-19 are only allowed to leave the house to work, walk and shop. The situation is dramatic, said governor Thomas Stelzer from the conservative ÖVP.
Upper Austria is likely to be the first region in Europe to introduce a lockdown for unvaccinated people. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg rejected a lockdown for those who had been vaccinated.
The drastic measure of a lockdown for unvaccinated people has been under discussion in Austria since Wednesday at the latest. Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (The Greens) suggested lockdowns for Upper Austria and Salzburg that day. Both federal states have very high seven-day incidences, in Upper Austria it is 1193, in Salzburg 1142.
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Doctors made sometimes dramatic appeals to politicians. Lung specialist Bernd Lamprecht from the Kepler University Clinic in Linz said, for example, that you don’t have a lot of time: “Normal operation in the hospitals is no longer possible.”
Salzburg remains skeptical about lockdown
Nevertheless, on Wednesday evening it still looked as if the governors of Salzburg and Upper Austria did not want to resort to a lockdown for unvaccinated people under any circumstances. The reluctance of Wilfried Haslauer (ÖVP), the governor of Salzburg, seemed particularly great. On Wednesday evening, he said he wanted to talk to experts first before deciding on the lockdown.
As an objection, he submitted that the measure could not be controlled. “We must therefore have a discussion as to whether the proposal by Health Minister Mückstein is realistic,” he said. Representatives of the trade association announced that the employees of the shops would not carry out any entry checks.
Salzburg’s governor Haslauer is refraining from following the example of Upper Austria for the time being. In any case, one dares to venture into legally difficult territory. In Austria there are still doubts as to whether a lockdown for unvaccinated people can be legally justified. Apparently, Health Minister Mückstein wants to talk to the two governors again on Friday. Then the details of the legal implementation should be announced.
The events in Upper Austria have further worsened the already tense political climate in the state. Upper Austria’s parties SPÖ, Greens and Neos issued a joint statement on the situation. In it they made governor Stelzer and his hesitant approach responsible for the situation in the state.
The governor’s “conscious inactivity in summer” will now be carried out on the back of the population, they said. Here the accusation resonates that Stelzer and ÖVP representatives had glossed over the infection situation before the state elections in September. This was done with the ulterior motive not to deliver ammunition to the FPÖ, whose members partially vehemently reject any corona measures. Upper Austria is special in that the vaccination rate in the state is lower than anywhere else in the state – namely 55 percent. At the bottom of the list are regions with a traditionally high proportion of very right-wing voters such as the Innviertel.
The importance of the critical camp in the state was then shown in the elections: Those who opposed the vaccination from the People, Fundamental Rights, Freedom (MFG) list managed to get into the state parliament with a 6.2 percent share of the vote.
More: How other countries are better managing the pandemic