Two-Tiered Society: Austria Proposes Lockdowns for the Unvaccinated if ICU Numbers Rise

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - APRIL 01: A banner informs people to wear a FFP2 face mask outdoors at Maria-Theresien Platz on the first day of an Easter shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic on April 01, 2021 in Vienna, Austria. Authorities have declared the Easter period from April 1 to April 5, …
Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images

People in Austria who have not been vaccinated for the Chinese coronavirus could face lockdown restrictions if hospitals are overrun, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

The Austrian federal government will look to introduce a two-tiered lockdown system, in which only those who have taken the vaccine will escape restrictions.

Warning of a potential winter wave of the Wuhan virus, the recently installed Austrian chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, said per DW: “The pandemic is not yet in the rearview mirror.”

“We are about to stumble into a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Mr Schallenberg added.

Schallenberg, who took over earlier this month as leader following Sebastian Kurtz’s resignation amid a corruption probe, said that there are too many “hesitators and procrastinators” in Austria and that he hopes the draconian measures will increase vaccine uptake.

Under a five-stage plan, the government said that if the number of people with coronavirus in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds reaches 20 per cent occupancy (400 beds) then antigen tests will become invalid, meaning only those who have been vaccinated, recovered, or have an up to date PCR test will have access to everywhere in the country, Kronen Zeitung reported.

Should the ICU occupancy rate hit 25 per cent (500 beds) then only vaccinated people will be allowed access to restaurants, hotels, events, sporting events, and other large cultural events, regardless of whether unvaccinated people can prove to have a negative test result, either antigen or PCR.

Finally, if over 600 beds (30 per cent) are occupied by coronavirus patients, then full lockdown restrictions would be imposed on the unvaccinated or those who have not recently recovered from coronavirus, with stay-at-home orders being reintroduced, allowing people to leave their own homes only for specified reasons.

At present, Austria has 220 people in ICU beds, making up just over ten per cent of occupants, meaning that the full lockdown measures will not likely be imposed imminently.

There has been a recent uptick in the number of cases, however, with the latest figures showing 20,408 new cases over the past week, at an average of 228.5 per 100,000 people, up from 152.5 the week before.

Despite efforts from the government to convince the Austrian people to get vaccinated, only 62.2 per cent have received two doses of a vaccine, with 65.4 per cent having had one jab, according to the Associated Press.

The threat of a national two-tiered lockdown comes after the capital of Vienna introduced restrictions on the unvaccinated last month.

In September, the city’s left-wing mayor, Michael Ludwig announced that all events with over 500 people, whether indoor or outdoor, would require proof of recovery from the Chinese virus or of vaccination. The restrictions also apply to evening service in restaurants and bars.

There has been growing resentment against the country’s lockdown measures, with a survey in March finding that 65 per cent of the public believed that the economic damage of lockdowns would ruin more lives than the virus itself.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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