Austria Becomes First Country in Western Europe to Re-enter a Full COVID Lockdown
Austria on Friday said it will implement a full lockdown in the country, the first Western European nation to re-impose such strict measures amid rising COVID-19 cases, and said it will require its entire population to get vaccinated by early next year.
The lockdown will go into effect on Monday and remain in place until Dec. 11 as of now, the Associated Press reported on Dec. 1. The decision comes amid rising cases throughout the country, which has seen a seven-day rate of more than 1,000 infections per 100,000 people.
"Too many among us have not shown enough solidarity. I ask you all to help," Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said, according to the wire service. "Take part, support these measures, let us try to reduce our social contacts for a maximum of 20 days so that the Christmas holidays are protected."
The lockdown is an expansion of Austria's earlier decision to impose restrictions specifically for those who weren't fully vaccinated, Reuters noted.
Beyond the lockdown itself, Austria (which ranked among the happiest countries in the world) will require its entire population to get vaccinated by Feb. 1, 2022. Currently, about 70.6% of the country has been vaccinated, according to Reuters, which is tracking inoculation rates around the world.
"We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated," Schallenberg said. "It hurts that such measures still have to be taken."
But Austria isn't alone. The Netherlands recently went into a partial lockdown itself with bars and restaurants forced to close at 8 p.m.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies Austria as a "Level 4" destination, indicating a "very high" level of COVID-19 transmission and warning Americans to "avoid" traveling there. The agency also recently classified the Netherlands under that same warning level.
While COVID-19 cases may be increasing, the United States is still welcoming fully vaccinated foreign travelers after reopening its borders earlier this month for the first time in 20 months.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.