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The police conduct random checks of vaccine standing

On the first day of a nationwide lockdown for people not yet vaccinated against Covid-19, police officers monitor compliance with the lockdown in Innsbruck.

Jan Hetfleisch | Getty Images

Austria has imposed new lockdown measures on around 2 million unvaccinated people, with people facing fines if they don’t follow the rules.

Those who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have been banned again since Monday, with federal police stopping people in public places to check their vaccination status.

Unvaccinated individuals who break the lockdown rules face fines of up to 500 euros ($ 567), and anyone who refuses to comply with the vaccination status check could face a fine of 1,450 euros.

The new restrictions apply to anyone over the age of 12 who has not received two doses of the vaccine. People who have recently recovered from the virus are exempt from the restrictions.

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

As proof of vaccination status, the Austrian authorities only accept vaccinations that are approved by the European medical supervisory authority – the vaccines Pfizer-BioNtech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna. Vaccinations greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

Austrian police officers check the identity and vaccination card of a man during a check in Vösendorf, Mödling district, Austria, on November 16, 2021.

Hans Punz | AFP | Getty Images

At the weekend, new cases of the virus in Austria reached an all-time high of 13,152 in a single day, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country recorded 11,889 new infections on Monday.

Around 65% of the Austrian population are fully vaccinated, which is the second lowest vaccination rate in Western Europe after Liechtenstein.

When the new lock restrictions were announced at a press conference on Sunday, the Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said that the police officers “very consistently monitor and sanction the rules”.

“The coronavirus situation in Austria is serious and a fourth wave hits us in full force. The number of new infections in Austria is higher than ever before,” he told reporters. “The only way to break this vicious cycle of the pandemic is through vaccination.”

Federal Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said on Twitter on Tuesday that around 15,000 police checks were carried out across Austria on Monday alone.

“Around 120 violations were identified and punished,” he said, adding that the public had shown a high level of cooperation with the authorities.

Police officers monitor compliance with the lockdown for unvaccinated persons on November 15, 2021 in Innsbruck, Austria.

Jan Hetfleisch | Getty Images

Despite the legislature’s belief that the Austrian police are available to ensure compliance with the lockdown, the guideline has been criticized as being difficult to enforce.

Unvaccinated people are still allowed to leave their homes for a variety of reasons, such as:

The lockdown is also met with resistance from Austria’s third largest political party, the right-wing FPÖ, which called the move the “Corona Apartheid System” and protested the restrictions in Vienna on Saturday.

Party leader Herbert Kickl said on Facebook on Monday that he had tested positive for the corona virus and was in quarantine for the event.

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