Austrians are days away from a first lockdown for anyone not fully vaccinated after record infections were reported across the country.
Upper Austria province will impose restrictions from Monday if it gets the go-ahead from the federal government. Salzburg also plans new measures.
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said a national lockdown for the unvaccinated was “probably inevitable”.
Two-thirds of people should not suffer because others were hesitant, he said.
Upper Austria, which borders Germany and the Czech Republic and has a population of 1.5 million, has the country’s highest level of infection and the lowest vaccination rate.
Nationally, a record 11,975 Covid-19 infections were recorded in the past 24 hours and Austria’s coronavirus commission has warned of a threat that “must be taken seriously”.
Austria has already banned the unvaccinated from going to restaurants, cinemas, ski lifts and hairdressers, but things are about to get even tougher in Upper Austria.
Around 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, national statistics show. Austria has the lowest vaccination rate of any Western European country apart from tiny Liechtenstein, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data.
Many Austrians are skeptical about vaccinations, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in parliament.
The chancellor says this means that people who have not been vaccinated won’t be able to leave home, unless it is for essential reasons like going to work, buying food or exercise.
Critics say the lockdown will be very hard to enforce.
If infections continue to rise, the authorities say lockdowns for the unvaccinated could be introduced in other areas. The far-right opposition Freedom Party has been campaigning on a platform of vaccine scepticism, a message that has found favour with many Austrians.
Austria’s seven-day incidence rate is far higher than in neighbouring Germany, where Health Minister Jens Spahn recently warned of a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
On Thursday, Germany recorded more than 50,000 daily infections for the first time. Germany’s 67.3% vaccination rate is higher than in Austria, but not by much.
Unvaccinated people will in effect be barred from restaurants, hotels, cinemas and theatres in the state of Brandenburg from Monday, by a “2G” rule limiting access to people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid.