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Austria launches vaccine passports

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Austrians who can’t produce a vaccine passport will soon not be able to enter bars and multiple other public places. The vaccine mandate has been imposed because of the rising number of cases, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said while announcing the new restrictions.

The vaccine passport mandate will take effect starting Monday. Those who have not been vaccinated will not be able to enter most public and entertainment venues and events with more than 25 people. The move is expected to have a huge impact, considering 36% of the country’s population has not been vaccinated.

“The evolution is exceptional and the occupancies of intensive-care beds are increasing significantly faster than we had expected,” Schallenberg said.

Though new restrictions take effect on Monday, the government will allow a four-week transition period. During the transition period, those who have received only one dose of the vaccine and those with a recent negative PCR test will be exempted from the restrictions. However, after the four weeks, only those who have been fully vaccinated will be exempted from the restrictions.

Unlike most countries and jurisdictions, Austria will recognize a recent recovery from COVID as an equivalent of being fully vaccinated.

The vaccine mandates will not apply to employees, only customers.

The chancellor argued that: “One is a leisure activity undertaken voluntarily – no one forces me to go to the cinema or the restaurant – the other is my place of work.”

The conservative government also announced stricter measures on the unvaccinated if 600 COVID patients are admitted to intensive care units.

The move adds Austria to the growing number of European countries implementing vaccine passport mandates.

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