Austria’s lower house of Parliament voted on Thursday to make Covid vaccines mandatory for almost everyone 18 and over.
The law would go into effect on February 1. Although the bill must still be passed in the upper chamber and signed by Alexander Van der Bellen as president, both are formalities at this stage.
Austria would be the first European nation to have such a broad mandate. Italy has made vaccinations mandatory for people over 50 with penalties for those who don’t comply. Greece mandates vaccines for people 60 years and older. Other European countries have also made vaccine passports mandatory for certain activities.
Austrian law allows pregnant women to be vaccinated, but cannot for medical reasons. People who have recently recovered from Covid will also be exempted.
All households will be notified when the law becomes effective. The government announced that routine checks of vaccination status would begin in mid-March. This includes traffic checks.
Once the vaccine checks begin, people who can’t immediately produce proof of vaccination will be reported to the authorities, and can be fined up to 600 euros ($685). The fine can be increased to 3,600 euros or approximately $4,000.
The law will be in effect until 2024. Austria’s current rate of vaccination is 75 percent, similar to that of France and of Italy, and new cases are averaging 17,846 a day, according to The New York Times database.
The government announced that it would mandate vaccines starting in November. The government had just implemented a lockdown for unvaccinated people, who were driving an epidemic of infections.
Source: NY Times