It’s official: From Saturday, Austrians over the age of 18 must be vaccinated against Covid-19 or face the possibility of a heavy fine, an unprecedented measure in the European Union.
The new measure, adopted on January 20 by Parliament, was signed into law by President Alexander Van der Bellen on Friday, the culmination of a process that began in November in the face of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The government decided to pursue its new tougher approach despite criticism within the country. “No other country in Europe is following us on compulsory vaccines,” said Manuel Krautgartner, who has campaigned against the new approach.
In neighbouring Germany, a similar law championed by the new Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz was debated last month in the Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, but has not made progress yet due to divisions within the political class.