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Austria will implement a broad Covid-19 vaccination mandate, which includes fines for unvaccinated adults, from February 1.

The government announced last November that a vaccination mandate was needed to deal with the low vaccination rate in the country. The first bill was released in December, and a revised draft was released on Monday and is currently before parliament.

Everyone aged 18 and over living in Austria must be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the latest draft. A few groups of people are exempt, such as pregnant people, people who have recovered from Covid-19 infection (who are exempt for 180 days from a positive PCR test), and people who cannot be vaccinated without putting on their health at risk.

“Compulsory vaccination does not come suddenly, but rather in stages,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told public broadcaster ORF on Sunday.

No fines will be issued during the initial phase, which lasts until mid-March, Nehammer said. From March 15, law enforcement will start checking whether people are following the new law, for example by examining their vaccination status at traffic checks.

People face fines of up to €600 ($685) if they do not have a vaccination or exemption certificate. “Reminder dates” can also be set, on which people are reminded by letter to get vaccinated.

In the third stage of the mandate, these recall dates will be followed by “vaccination dates”. People who have not received vaccines or exemptions by then will be fined.

There will be two “vaccination dates” each year. A person can face a maximum of four fines per year, which would total €2,400 ($2,741).

The vaccine’s mandate is set to last until January 31, 2024 and it will be continuously evaluated until then, according to the Austrian health ministry.

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