Nationwide Lockdown Begins Monday; Mandatory Vaccines from 2022

Austria announced a nationwide lockdown starting Monday, November 22, as well as the introduction of mandatory vaccines from 2022. Government representatives said the decision was difficult, but was supported by all federal states and by the major parties.

At a Friday press conference, government representatives announced a nationwide lockdown for everyone beginning on Monday, and a vaccine mandate that will enter force on February 1, 2021.  

The general lockdown will last until December 12 at the latest for the vaccinated, though progress will be reviewed after 10 days, according to Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg (Austrian People’s Party, ÖVP). After the general lockdown ends, the 2-G rule will go back into effect for most public spaces, and those who are unvaccinated will remain in lockdown.

Businesses affected by the lockdown will qualify for financial support, as they did during previous lockdowns. The finance minister is expected to present more information about this later today.

Schools will remain open with “Präsenzunterricht” (teaching in classrooms), but parents are asked to please keep their children at home if possible. School decisions were among the hardest, Schallenberg said, because any decision creates a challenge for families.

He noted that although the incidence rate is extremely high among school children, regular testing procedures help keep the numbers in check. A representative from the Ministry of Education told Metropole that the minister, Heinz Faßmann, is also planning to give a statement about this later on.  

Vaccine Mandate & Nationwide Lockdown

Of the coming lockdown and vaccine mandate, Schallenberg said the measures achieved at a federal level, including the lockdown for the unvaccinated, were working but were not quick enough. For a long time, he said, we had agreed that we didn’t want a vaccine mandate. For a long time, perhaps too long, the government thought it could convince people to get vaccinated voluntarily to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“We need to look reality in the eye,” he said, criticizing “political forces” that have falsely convinced people that vaccines are dangerous. The result has been “overfilled intensive stations and enormous human suffering.”

He noted that an inclusive legal consultation process is planned ahead of the vaccine mandate, which will come into effect next year.

Government representatives said the decision was difficult but was supported by all federal states and by the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), Greens, and Social Democrats (SPÖ). Speakers the press conference included Schallenberg, Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens), Tyrol’s governor Günther Platter (ÖVP), and Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ)

Here is the key information shared so far. Please check Metropole’s coronavirus update page for updates throughout the day.

  • A vaccine mandate will enter force in February 2022, following a consultative process that will involved civil society and legal experts.
  • Vaccine boosters are recommended and available for everyone four months after their last shot.
  • A 24-hour lockdown begins nationwide on Monday for all people, regardless of vaccination status. This will continue through December 12 at the latest.
  • The only reasons to leave home include medical attention (including vaccinations), purchasing essentials, unavoidable bureaucratic paths, education reasons, or to take walks for physical and mental health.
  • Schools and kindergartens will principally remain open. (The education ministry told Metropole that a press conference or statement is planned for this afternoon).
  • Affected businesses will receive financial support, as in earlier lockdowns.
  • Home office is recommended wherever possible.
  • FFP2 masks are required to be worn in all closed spaces and in workplaces
  • What we need now is the booster shot! Our daily vaccinate rate keeps up with Europe. Nationalrats Gremium now says that the third dose is recommended after 4 months and possible. In parallel, the green pass will be updated. Get the third dosis now. Only together can we get out of the pandemic.
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Naomi Hunt
Naomi Hunt is a managing editor at Metropole, with roots in the U.S. and Malaysia that have long been buried under Austrian soil. She previously served as a program manager at the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) and was a Senior Press Freedom Adviser at the International Press Institute (IPI).

Current Status

If you live in Vienna, make sure to register for getting a vaccine against COVID-19 under impfservice.wien.  Here you can book your vaccination appointment.

The City of Vienna offers free vaccinations without an appointment to everyone – regardless of citizenship or insurance status – at multiple locations across the city. 

Vienna has reinstated a number of coronavirus restrictions for the fall. The Austrian government has presented a plan for schools and universities.  

Here’s an overview of where you can get tested for COVID-19 in Vienna and how the free PCR “gargle” tests at home work. 

If everything is a bit much for you or you experience domestic violence of any kind, here is our mental health resource article.

Numbers

For current coronavirus numbers, check the website of Ministry of Health and the AGES dashboard.

The Austrian Ministry of Health also publishes daily vaccination statistics and a preview of scheduled deliveries.

Resources

The City of Vienna has compiled comprehensive information on questions and answers regarding coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease in English.

The Austrian Ministry of Health has put together FAQs on the coronavirus and also provides material to download on how to protect yourself and others from the disease, also in English.

Furthermore, the ministry will constantly update its German-language website with information on the number of people tested and cases of COVID-19 in Austria.

Hotlines

Health advice by telephone1450

If you show symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties) or fear that you are ill, stay at home and dial health number 1450 for further procedures (diagnostic clarification).

Coronavirus hotline AGES+43 0800 555 621

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) answers questions about the coronavirus (general information on transmission, symptoms, prevention) 24 hours a day at +43 0800 555 621.

VKI hotline for travel law questions+43 0800 201 211

For legal questions concerning trips that have already been booked (e.g. whether a trip can be cancelled free of charge), the experts of the Association for Consumer Information (VKI) provide advice free of charge from Monday to Sunday between 09:00 and 15:00 at +43 0800 201 211.