Slovakia’s government is actively considering a potential full lockdown to stem the rise of fresh Covid-19 infections, similar to the one introduced in neighboring Austria, Prime Minister Eduard Heger’s office said on Monday.

Heger said that his office is “intensively” mulling a three-week lockdown, which has been proposed by the Health Ministry. He added that expert opinion would be key to making any decision in the coming days.

Earlier on Monday, Heger said he was also in favor of mandatory vaccination for people over 50, but said he would follow the guidance of experts here also. “I am convinced today that there is no other way than vaccines if we do not want to have repeated waves and lockdowns,” he said.

“This devours the economy, people’s health and people’s lives. If we don’t want to experience this agony for years, we clearly need to be protected by the vaccine.” 

Slovakia has already banned unvaccinated people from bars and pubs and ordered restaurants to suspend all in-house meal services as part of a set of measures agreed last week.

About 45% of Slovakia’s population are vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Europe.

Neighboring Austria entered a 10-day national lockdown affecting all citizens on Monday as cases of the virus soared, with Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg apologizing to vaccinated citizens for taking the “drastic step.” 

Meanwhile, Germany’s Angela Merkel warned that current Covid-19 measures were not enough and that Germany was facing a “highly dramatic situation” as winter approached.

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