Austria will implement a comprehensive Covid-19 vaccine mandate, which includes fines for unvaccinated adults, from 1 February.
The government announced in November last year that a vaccine mandate was needed to address the low vaccination rate in the country. The first draft law was published in December, and a revised draft was published on Monday and is now going through the Folketing.
According to the latest draft, everyone aged 18 and over living in Austria must have been vaccinated against Covid-19. A few groups of people are excluded, such as pregnant women, people who have recovered from a Covid-19 infection (who are exempt for 180 days from a positive PCR test), and people who cannot be vaccinated without bringing their health at risk.
"The mandatory vaccination does not come suddenly, instead it comes in a step-by-step approach," Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told public television station ORF on Sunday.
No fines will be issued in the initial phase, which lasts until mid-March, Nehammer said. From March 15, law enforcement will begin to check whether people are complying with the new law, for example, by examining their vaccination status under traffic control.
People risk fines of up to € 600 ($ 685) if they do not hold a vaccine certificate or an exemption. So-called "reminder dates" can also be set, where you are reminded by letter to be vaccinated.
In the third phase of the mandate, these reminder dates will be followed by "vaccine dates." Persons who have not been shot or exempted before then will be fined.
There will be two "vaccine dates" each year. A person can be fined a maximum of four fines annually, which would be a total of € 2,400 ($ 2,741).
The vaccine mandate is scheduled to last until January 31, 2024, and it will be continuously assessed until then, according to the Austrian Ministry of Health.