A new law has come into force in Austria which requires those aged 18 and over to be fully jabbed.
The vaccine mandate - which comes into effect this week - applies to all adults, unless you are pregnant or medically exempt.
Those who still wish to avoid getting vaccinated risk facing hefty fines of up to €3,600 (£3,000).
The law represents the first of its kind in Europe, but reports suggest other nations such as Germany may follow suit in coming months.
Anti-vaxx protesters have been shaken by the news, as sizeable rallies continue to crop up throughout the nation.
The Independent spoke to a 44-year-old woman named Karen who was present at an anti-vaxx rally in Austria.
She said: “I’m concerned my employer will demand it and I could lose my job.”
The Austrian government supposedly recognise the severity of the rules they are imposing, but believe their role is to protect the interests of public health through increased uptake of the vaccination.
Austria’s constitution minister Karoline Edtstadler said: “It is a really strong step and a really hard measure.
“We as politicians have the responsibility to be sure that the healthcare system is still working, that society, as a whole, can live normally.”
The harsh rules are set to be in place until January 2024.
Health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein described the law as a ‘big and, for the first time, also last step’ in their fight against Covid-19.
He told parliament: “This is how we manage to escape the cycle of opening and closing, of lockdowns. That is why this law is so urgently needed right now.”
The vaccine mandate comes in response to a spike of Covid-19 cases in Austria, as the country reported 34,748 new infections last Friday (29 January), which is roughly ten times higher than it was in early January.
Only 72 percent of Austria’s adult population are fully vaccinated, less than many of its neighbouring countries.
Reports suggest that authorities will not begin checking vaccination status until the middle of March.
Despite news of the nationwide mandate, Vienna will loosen its Covid-19 restrictions in the coming weeks as a result of low hospitalisation numbers.
More than 14,100 people have so far died in Austria from the virus.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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