Austria suspends mandatory Covid vaccination law

Austria is suspending a law making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all adults, just a month after the legislation took effect in an EU first.

The country of 9 million people was among few in the world to make coronavirus jabs compulsory for all adults. The law took effect in February and called for fines of up to €3,600 (£3,000) from mid-March for those who did not comply.

But the minister Karoline Edtstadler said the law’s “encroachment of fundamental rights” could no longer be justified by the danger posed.

“After consultations with the health minister, we have decided that we will of course follow what the [expert] commission has said,” Edtstadler said after a cabinet meeting. “We see no need to actually implement this compulsory vaccination due to the [Omicron] variant that we are predominantly experiencing here.”

The highly contagious variant is widely believed to be less severe than previous forms of the virus, and so far Austrian hospitals have been able to cope with a surge in cases.

Calls to review the law have become increasingly loud, especially as Austria has dropped almost all coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks.

As of Tuesday, Austria had recorded almost 3m coronavirus cases and more than 15,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

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