Austria to begin compulsory vaccination from next month


Compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus is to come into force in Austria from the beginning of February, according to a draft law unveiled by the government in Vienna on Sunday.

The mandate is to apply to everyone aged 18 and over, as opposed to those aged 14 and over, as was originally planned. Random checks of the population are to begin in mid-March, including traffic stops, Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said.

Those refusing to be vaccinated will be fined between 600 and 3,600 euros (685 and 4,165 dollars) after being given a final chance to get vaccinated by a set deadline.

The law is to apply to all Austrian residents, with exceptions made for pregnant women and anyone who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Anyone who has recovered from the coronavirus is to be granted a 180-day exemption.

The Austrian parliament is expected to pass the law on Thursday, in a vote that is largely seen as a formality due to the governing coalition of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Greens having the necessary simple majority.

Only the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) is categorically opposed to compulsory vaccination.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer said that the new law did not represent a battle between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, but rather one for the whole of society to live in freedom again.

Nehammer himself tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, but said that due to his vaccination he had always felt confident he would not need to be hospitalized.