In an attempt to prevent future COVID-19 waves, virus variants, and lockdowns, Austria became the first EU country to implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination plan for all adults.
The bill requiring compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus passed through the Austrian National Council with 137 votes for, 33 against, and 13 abstentions.
With the passing of the bill, vaccination will be mandatory beginning in February 2022 for everyone over the age of 18, with exceptions for pregnant women and those with legitimate health reasons.
An exception will also be given to those who have recovered from the virus, but this exception will only last for six months after recovery, after which the individual must be vaccinated.
There will be an initial phase of the mandatory vaccination plan without any penalties for non-compliance.
However, by mid-March, the government will begin administering fines for those who do not get vaccinated.
The fines for not getting vaccinated can reach up to € 3,600.
Extension of lockdown for unvaccinated
Not only did the National Council approve the compulsory vaccination bill, but they also extended the current lockdown for unvaccinated people.
In addition to extending the lockdown, the government also decided to add a new option for punishing businesses that are not complying with COVID-19 measures.
On top of the fines that businesses can receive for ignoring COVID measures, if a business has been penalized three times, then it can be immediately closed for seven days.
Even though vaccination will soon be mandatory, the government has decided to once again offer incentives for people to get vaccinated.
A € 1.4 billion package has been approved to create a lottery program for those who get vaccinated.
Participants, including those who were previously vaccinated, can win vouchers for € 500 to use at restaurants or shops.
In addition to the lottery, the government will be incentivizing municipalities to get their population vaccinated.
Money will be distributed to municipalities when they reach 80 percent, 85 percent, and 90 percent vaccination rates.
There is a total of € 75 million to be distributed to communities with a vaccination rate of 80 percent, € 150 million for 85 percent, and € 300 million for 90 percent.