Austria enacts its strict covid-19 vaccination mandate

(CNN) — Austria became the first country in Europe to introduce a national Covid-19 vaccination mandate after President Alexander Van der Bellen signed the law passed by Parliament.

The mandate will come into force on February 1, although Austrian officials will not start carrying out checks on compliance with the law until March 15. From then on, those who do not have a vaccination certificate or an exemption could be sanctioned with initial fines of 600 euros (about US$680) that could go up to 3,600 euros (about US$4,080).

According to the website of the Austrian Ministry of Health, pregnant people and those who cannot be vaccinated without endangering their health are exempt from the law. Individuals recovering from a COVID-19 infection are also exempt for 180 days from the date they received their first positive COVID-19 PCR test result.

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How does the legislation that Austria passed work?

The new law will last until January 31, 2024 and will be applied in stages, according to the Ministry of Health.

All Austrian households will receive a letter explaining the mandate.

Officials will be able to search a national database for each resident’s vaccination status, or the date they are due to be vaccinated.

Unvaccinated people will eventually face the maximum fine of 3,600 euros ($4,000) up to four times a year if they are not listed on the vaccination record on their assigned vaccination date.

The authorities can waive the fine if the person is vaccinated within two weeks of receiving the sanction notice.

The law is one of the most punitive measures adopted by Western lawmakers in recent months as they seek to curb the socioeconomic burdens of the pandemic.

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France is also cracking down on the unvaccinated. The French government recently passed a bill requiring people to prove they are fully vaccinated in order to access a wide range of everyday activities, such as visiting restaurants and bars and taking long-distance public transport between regions.

Italy has required everyone over 50 to get vaccinated or risk a fine, and Germany requires anyone who hasn’t received their booster to show negative results of a Covid-19 test before entering public places.

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