Austria has become the first country in Europe to make coronavirus vaccinations compulsory under new laws announced yesterday.
It prompted fears that a 10,000-strong march in Vienna today could descend into violence as anger builds against rules forcing people to get the jab.
“As of today, Austria is a dictatorship,” said Herbert Kickl, the far-Right FPO leader, accusing the government of crossing a “dark red line” with the plan to force citizens to have the injection from February 1.
Police were on high alert with 1,300 officers on standby, while intelligence services warned that anti-vaccine activists planned to invade hospitals in protest against the measures.
Alexander Schallenberg, the Austrian chancellor, also announced the entire country would go into lockdown on Monday.
Only the unvaccinated are currently confined to their homes. Mr Schallenberg blamed them for forcing their fellow citizens back into lockdown.
“We are demanding a lot from the vaccinated people in this country, because the unvaccinated people have not shown solidarity,” he said.
Pamela Rendi-Wagner, leader of the biggest opposition party in Austria, the Social Democrats (SPO), said: “The fourth lockdown could have been prevented. The government has not taken the experts’ warnings seriously for too long.”
Today’s protest, which will bring together FPO supporters, trade unions and anti-vaxxers, was originally called to protest against the lockdown for the unvaccinated, but it is now expected to focus on compulsory vaccination.
Thousands of people gathered in Graz, Austria’s second city, to protest against restrictions on the unvaccinated earlier this week.
Today’s rally in Vienna is expected to be much larger. The unvaccinated have been under lockdown in Austria since Monday.
Austria recorded 15,809 new cases of the virus yesterday and now has a seven-day incidence of 1,034 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Only 63.8pc of Austrians have been fully vaccinated.