- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2022

Austria said Thursday it would try to entice COVID-19 vaccine holdouts with a prize lottery, a move to sweeten perspectives around the shots before parliament approves a national vaccine mandate.

The lottery offers a ticket for each shot an Austrian has received — a boosted person would get three — and every 10th ticket will come with a 500 euro ($568) voucher that can be used in “retail, tourism, hospitality, services, culture and sport,” Chancellor Karl Nehammer said.

The chancellor is trying to soften attitudes before lawmakers make the shots compulsory.

Under the plan, the vaccine will be mandatory for all adults, with exceptions for pregnant women and people who cannot get the shots for medical reasons. An earlier draft called for making the vaccine mandatory for those 14 and older but it was revised to 18 and up.

The mandate goes into effect Feb. 1, but police won’t check Austrians’ status until mid-March. Unvaccinated persons face fines that start at 600 euros and can reach 3,600 euros.

Around 73% of the country of 8.9 million is fully vaccinated, a rate that’s slightly better than the European Union average but lower than some western European countries.

The mandate was first announced in November, as lawmakers struggled with low uptake of the shots and imposed a lockdown that’s since been lifted.

Other countries, including Greece and Italy, have imposed vaccine mandates on older persons but Austria is an outlier in imposing a sweeping mandate.

Roughly 63% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. President Biden is urging private companies to mandate the vaccine on their own after the Supreme Court struck down his push to require weekly testing of unvaccinated persons at employers with 100 or more workers.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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