Austria intensifies controls of adherence to COVID rules

People with take away drinks pass by a closed Christmas market during a nationwide lockdown to stem the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 in Salzburg, Austria, 08 December 2021. [EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA]

Starting from Tuesday, store and restaurant owners will be subject to intense police controls on whether they check the COVID certificate of their customers.

Interior minister Gerhard Karner said the measure is necessary to convince the “incorrigible” to abide by COVID rules. “We will further increase the control pressure,” he said on Monday at a press conference.

While a lockdown for the unvaccinated is in place since December, adherence to the rules has not been sufficiently controlled so far, as store and restaurant owners were not obliged to check the COVID certificate of their customers.

The new measures obligate them to ensure that their customers are either vaccinated or recovered. The police will check store and restaurant owners on a random basis. Violations of the rules will be met with severe fines.

Furthermore, the police will also intensify the pressure on the unvaccinated by checking the vaccination status during general police controls and by implementing additional focus controls.

The decree that enables the new measures was passed with a broad majority in the Austrian parliament on Monday. Next to the governing Conservative-Green coalition, the Social Democrat opposition party also supported the new measure.

The government already announced new COVID measures on Thursday, to fight the spread of the Omicron variant. By intensifying the control of adherence to the lockdown for the unvaccinated, the government hopes to avoid another lockdown for all amidst rising infection numbers.

(Oliver Noyan | EURACTIV.de) 

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