Austria is suspending a law requiring Covid 19 vaccinations for all adults. The government made the announcement Wednesday, just one month after the law first took effect in the EU.
The Alpine country of nine million people was one of the few countries in the world to make vaccination against the coronavirus mandatory for all adults.
The law took effect in February and, starting in mid-March, provided for fines of up to 3,600 euros ($3,940) for those who do not comply.
However, Minister Karoline Edtstadler said the “encroachment on fundamental rights” could no longer be justified by the threat posed by the pandemic.
“After consulting with the health minister, we have decided that we will of course follow the recommendations of the expert commission,” Edtstadler said after a cabinet meeting.
“We don’t see any need to actually do this mandatory vaccination because of the (Omicron) variant that we are seeing predominantly here.”
The highly contagious variant is widely considered less severe than earlier strains of the virus, and so far Austrian hospitals have been able to handle an increase in cases.
Calls for an overhaul of the law are growing louder, especially as Austria has lifted nearly all restrictions on coronaviruses in recent weeks.
As of Tuesday, nearly three million coronavirus cases and more than 15,000 deaths had been recorded in Austria since the pandemic began in 2020.