Austria to make vaccines compulsory after plunging country into full lockdown

Watch: COVID in Europe: Austria locks down as Germany moves to restrict unvaccinated

Austria will become the first western European country to reimpose a full COVID-19 lockdown this autumn as it confirmed plans to make the vaccine compulsory for its whole population.

The lockdown will begin on Monday and last 10 days initially - and 20 days at most - conservative chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told a news conference.

The move comes less than a week after the country put unvaccinated people under restrictions failed to control infections.

The country will also require its entire population to get vaccinated by February, its government confirmed on Friday.

Police officers check the vaccination status of shoppers at the entrance of a store after the Austrian government imposed a lockdown on roughly two million people who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Vienna, Austria, November 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
Austria made the move to full lockdown after a spike in cases. (Reuters)

"We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated," Chancellor Schallenberg told a news conference, saying a requirement to be vaccinated would start on February 1.

Austria has a seven-day infection of 971.5 per 100,000 people, one of the highest on the continent.

On Monday the Austrian government took the "dramatic" step of putting all of its unvaccinated population into lockdown.

People 12 and older who haven’t been vaccinated - or recently recovered from the virus - were banned from leaving their homes except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping, going to school or university or for a walk - or getting vaccinated.

Roughly 66% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in western Europe.

The two worst-hit provinces, Salzburg and Upper Austria, had said on Thursday they would introduce their own lockdowns, raising pressure on the government to do the same nationally.

As winter approaches, cases have surged across Europe, prompting governments to consider reimposing unpopular lockdowns.

The Netherlands entered a partial lockdown earlier this month and Germany is set to increase restrictions for those unvaccinated in the coming days.

In Germany, new rules will mean access to communal places will require proof of vaccination, recent recovery or negative.

Germany’s disease control agency reported 65,371 new daily cases on Thursday, shattering the previous 24-hour record.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned earlier this week the UK would not be able to escape the rising number of cases in Europe.

Watch: Austria to impose lockdown and mandatory vaccinations, announces chancellor