Austria’s parliament on Thursday approved making Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for all adults from February 1st, becoming the first European nation to so.
The vote approving the new measure passed with 137 votes in favour and only 33 votes against, with all parties except the newly established ‘Freedom Party of Austria’ (FPO) supporting the motion.
From mid- March, the new bill will also impose fines on all those that without a medical exemption refuse to be vaccinated, with insubordinate Austrian citizens set to face fines of up to €3,600.
During Thursday’s parliamentary debate, leader of the FPO, Herbet Lickl, denounced the new legislation, affirming that it “paves the way to totalitarianism in Austria“.
Contrarily, Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, asserted that mandatory vaccination was an opportunity for Austrian society to “achieve lasting and continuous freedom, because the virus cannot restrict us any further”.
The idea of compulsory vaccination was first announced back in November 2021, shortly before Austria also became the first European nation to impose a lockdown solely for the unvaccinated.
Since then, the measures and proposals have triggered mass protests across the country, with 44,000 hitting the streets of Vienna on 11th December in opposition to the government’s course of action.
While huge protests in Austria have become routine since December 2021, this latest development is expected to provoke further mass demonstrations against the bill, which is described by one Austria citizen as going against the constitution and infringing upon basic rights.