Austria has authorized the first national lockdown for unvaccinated people over the age of 12.

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On Monday, Austria authorized the first national lockdown for unvaccinated people over the age of 12. The measure is being taken to stop the alarming increase in the number of new cases of coronavirus and the increasing pressure on intensive care units. Austria is the first country in the world to take this drastic measure. The unvaccinated quarantine takes effect at midnight.

The measure will mean that people will only be allowed to leave the house for essential activities, such as going to the doctor or buying food.

Europe is once again the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led some governments to consider re-imposing blockages. Austria has one of the highest infection rates on the continent, with an incidence of 815 per 100.000 people in the last 7 days.

Monday's measures will extend to those imposed a week ago, which cut off access to unvaccinated people in public places including restaurants, hotels, theaters and ski lifts.

About 65% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. Many Austrians are skeptical about vaccines, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third largest in parliament. "We need to increase the vaccination rate. It's shamefully low, " Austria's chancellor told a news conference on Sunday.

The lockdown in Austria, which does not apply to children under 12 or people who have recently recovered from COVID-19, will initially last 10 days, Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said. Many officials, including from Schallenberg's Conservative Party and the police, have expressed doubts that this blockade can be properly applied, as it only applies to part of the population.

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said there would be police checks and fines of up to 1.450 euros ($ 1.660) for violations, and all checks would check the vaccination status of people.

"From tomorrow, every citizen, every person living in Austria must be aware that it can be checked by the police.Nehammer told a news conference.

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