Austria’s Federal Government has a ticking time bomb on its hands: an ordinance that suspended its vaccine mandate law is set to expire by the end of May, which means that the controversial mandatory vaccination would be again in place as early as June 1st.
In order to keep that from happening, Austria’s Health Ministry needs to extend the current regulation or create a new one.
If it doesn’t, the Covid-19 mandatory vaccination law would automatically be back in June.
Since, by June, the vaccine mandate stated that non-vaccinated would start getting fines, the resumption of the law would mean that, from next month, those who are not vaccinated could be fined in routine checks, such as traffic checks.
The ins and outs of the vaccine mandate
The law was first introduced in February, even though the technical requirements for it to be enacted were not in place. The first stage of it was purely “informational”, and Austrian residents received letters explaining about vaccines and about the regulation.
A second stage, when people could have been fined if they were not vaccinated, was set to start in mid-March. Before a single person was fined, though, Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) suspended the law with an ordinance.
The law was suspended for a variety of reasons, primarily due to the relatively high vaccination coverage the country had already received, along with the lower virulence of the Omicron variant.
To create a new regulation or extend the existing one stopping people from being fined, Rauch must await the report of the vaccination commission, which should be ready in May, according to the Ministry.
The coronavirus commission will assess whether the Vaccination Act is suitable and useful from a medical and legal point of view. A previous report said there were arguments for and against mandatory vaccination for those who were completely unvaccinated.
Der Standard reports there is little political support for compulsory vaccination and says there are still technical problems regarding automated fines. However, according to the Ministry of Health, the infrastructure should be completed in June.