Austria back to full lockdown, vaccines to be compulsory

Austria will be the first country in western Europe to reimpose a full coronavirus lockdown this autumn - and will mandate its whole population to get vaccinated as of February.

The government announced the new rules on Friday (November 19), as infection levels in the country set new records.

Two-thirds of Austrians are fully vaccinated - one of the lowest rates in Western Europe.

Vaccine skepticism is widespread, a view encouraged by the country's far right Freedom Party, the third biggest party in parliament.

Here's Conservative Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg.

"We have decided to now initiate a nationwide compulsory vaccination very quickly... Substantially increasing vaccination rates, and I think we all agree on this, is our only way out of this vicious circle of virus waves and lockdown discussions once and for all. We don't want a fifth wave, we don't want a sixth and seventh wave."

The lockdown rules will start on Monday (November 22), and the population will be required to get vaccinated from February 1st.

Although Austria's restrictions are especially stringent, they could set the tone for other countries in Europe.

According to neighbor Germany's health minister, a fourth wave of infections there is so grave that a lockdown cannot be ruled out, even for the vaccinated, sending shivers through financial markets worried about the economic fallout.

The Netherlands is also now in partial lockdown with bars and restaurants closing at 8 p.m.

Greece on Thursday (November 19) joined several other European countries, including Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, in limiting public life for the unvaccinated as COVID-19 infections continue to rise there, too.

Over in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Monday (November 15) that people must come forward for COVID-19 vaccines to avoid fresh winter restrictions.