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Austria Suspends Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Law

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

The Alpine nation of nine million people was among few countries in the world to make jabs against the coronavirus compulsory for all adults.

The law took effect in February and called for fines up to 3,600 euros ($3,940) from mid-March for those who do not comply.

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

“After consultations with the health minister, we have decided that we will of course follow what the (expert) commission has said,” Edtstadler told reporters 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 strains 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 has recorded almost three million coronavirus cases and more than 15,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

afp

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