(Bloomberg) -- Austria will end a nationwide lockdown this weekend for people who’ve been inoculated against Covid-19 or have recovered from the virus, while continuing to limit participation in public life for those who refuse to be vaccinated.

The government will meet regional leaders on Wednesday to assess the measures needed to keep the pandemic contained and turn a “tendency of falling cases into a trend,” Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters in Vienna.

The measures have helped halve the number of 7-day infections per 100,000 inhabitants from as high as 1,110 at the start of the lockdown, even as occupancy of intensive-care units remains near a record.

The re-opening of places like retail shops and hairdressers is in line with plans announced before the lockdown began on Nov. 22. The policy was imposed to not only stem infections but also raise Austrian vaccination rates, which remain stuck in the lower half of countries tracked by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Austria’s Chancellor, who was sworn in on Monday, said some restrictions may remain for hotels and restaurants, and regional leaders have the option to impose stricter local measures. 

“If you are ready to accept scientific results, get a vaccination and protect others, then you will regain your freedom,” Nehammer said.

Austria is one of few European nations to return to strict restrictions in the latest wave of the pandemic. It also plans to impose mandatory vaccinations from February and fine dissenters.


©2021 Bloomberg L.P.