Austria going into full lockdown, mandating vaccines as COVID-19 cases soar

Austria will become the first country in Europe to return to a total COVID-19 lockdown amid a rise in cases across the country, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday, according to multiple news outlets.

The lockdown will start Monday and last for 10 days and officials may extend it an additional 10 days, CNN noted.

The nation will also be the first in the European Union to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory, beginning Feb. 1.

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"We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated," Schallenberg told reporters at a press conference in Vienna, according to Reuters.

"It hurts that such measures still have to be taken," he added.

Austria's vaccination rate is on the lower end for Europe, with 65 percent of the population fully vaccinated. The country's infection rate is one of the highest in Europe, with a seven-day incidence of 991 per 100,000 people, Reuters reported.

The moves come only days after the country imposed a lockdown for all unvaccinated persons over 12 years old. While Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said Friday that schools and kindergartens would be open during the lockdown, Schallenberg told parents that they could take their children out of school, according to CNN.

Once the national lockdown is lifted, the lockdown measure will remain for unvaccinated individuals. Mückstein said everything being done is crucial to avoid a "fifth wave," the news outlet noted.

Mückstein also urged residents to wear FFP2 masks when in enclosed spaces. 

Germany also announced plans to impose COVID-19 restrictions on the unvaccinated as the country faces its fourth wave of the pandemic. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel said the situation in her country was ''dramatic'' and ''very worrying," CNN noted.