January 01 2022 12:00 am

Austrian chancellor threatens lockdown for unvaccinated

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Austria’s Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. European Union leaders conclude a two-day summit on Friday in which they discuss issues such as climate change, the energy crisis, COVID-19 developments and migration. (Olivier Hoslet, Pool Photo via AP)

VIENNA (AP) — Unvaccinated people in Austria could face new lockdown restrictions if coronavirus case numbers continue to rise, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Friday night.

The news came after a Friday evening meeting between Schallenberg and state-level leaders to discuss their response to rapidly increasing case numbers.

“The pandemic is not yet in the rearview mirror,” Schallenberg said. “We are about to stumble into a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Schallenberg announced that if the number of COVID patients in intensive-care units reaches 500, or 25 percent of the country’s total ICU capacity, entrance into businesses such as restaurants and hotels will be limited to those who are vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

If the number reaches 600, or one-third of total ICU capacity, the government plans to impose restrictions on unvaccinated people. In this case, they would only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons.

Currently, the number of COVID patients in ICUs stands at 220.

In the past week, Austria has reported 20,408 new cases of the virus, according to health authorities, bringing the 7-day average to 228.5 per 100,000 inhabitants. A week earlier, that figure was at 152.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Although Austria’s government has encouraged citizens to get vaccinated, the effort has slowed in recent months. Some 65.4% of the total population has received one dose of the vaccine, and 62.2% are fully vaccinated.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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