By The Local
Austria's planned vaccine mandate law will take a step towards becoming reality this week, and will reportedly apply from the age of 14, with fines of €600 which can be issued multiple times.
Several of Austria’s major national newspapers including the Kurier, Die Presse, Heute and Der Standard claimed to have seen a copy of the draft law, though the Ministry of Health declined to comment on it when asked by broadcaster ORF, saying an official first draft will be submitted later this week.
According to the media reports, the law will come into effect on February 1st but fines will not be issued until March 15th, allowing people the chance to get vaccinated after the law becomes reality. The government has however repeatedly urged Austrian residents not to wait until the mandate to get their jab. Reminder letters inviting people to vaccination would be sent by the Ministry of Health in February; similar letters have already been sent out by social insurance agencies.
The law would require three doses: the second between 14 and 42 days after the first, and a third between 120 and 270 days after the second. The Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines would be recognised.
The Local has contacted the Ministry of Health for further information, including what would apply to people who were vaccinated with jabs not approved in Austria, for example those who received the Sputnik vaccine abroad.
The mandate would apply from the age of 14 (vaccination is currently available for children in Austria from the age of five), but people who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons would be excluded, as they have been from 2G requirements. Pregnant people would also be excluded from the mandate, as would those who had recently recovered from a Covid-19 infection, although only for 180 days following the infection.
For people who were previously covered by an exemption, the mandate would apply from the end of the month after the exemption ceasing to apply. This would be the case for teenagers after their 14th birthday, people after the birth of their child, and people who had a recovery certificate, for examples.
Reports say the fines for violating the mandate would be set at €600, which could be issued every three months up to an annual total of €2,400. The fine for refusing to pay the penalty would be set at a maximum of €3,600 — though the draft reportedly includes a clause to say that personal financial circumstances should be taken into account when setting the fine. This money would be used to fund hospitals.
As of December 4th, 71.7 percent of the total Austrian population had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The mandate has sparked major protests across the country over recent weeks, with five arrests made when a small minority of over 40,000 protestors in Vienna clashed with police last weekend.