Police check vehicles at a border crossing in Scharnitz, Austria, on Wednesday. In efforts to halt the rise of COVID-19 infections, the Austrian government has imposed strict travel restrictions mandating travelers to be either fully vaccinated, recovered from the disease or provide a negative test upon entry. Photo by Philipp Guelland/EPA-EFE
Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Austria will again impose a national COVID-19 lockdown next week in a bid to control another wave of infections -- and in three months will begin requiring that all adults in the country are vaccinated, officials said Friday.
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced the measures and said the lockdown will begin on Monday. The vaccine requirement will start in February.
The national vaccine mandate is the first for any Western democracy.
Austria is home to one of Europe's highest infection rates, and one of its lowest vaccination rates. There were more than 14,000 new cases on Thursday.
Schallenberg said it's become a challenge to convince Austrians to get the vaccine voluntarily. So far, only about 66% of the population is fully vaccinated.
"We, therefore, have reached a very difficult decision to introduce a national vaccine mandate," he said, according to The New York Times.
Health Minister Wolfgang Muckstein said the only way to end the pandemic is through vaccinations.
The lockdown will close everything but schools and grocery stores. It will last for at least 10 days.
On Monday, Austrian officials had announced new lockdown measures for all unvaccinated residents over the age of 12. All Austrians are affected by Friday's announcement, regardless of vaccination status.