Austria announced lockdown measures for around two million nationals who still have not received vaccination against coronavirus, as the country faces a significant surge in cases. Unvaccinated Austrians can only be permissible to leave home for limited reasons, such as buying food or working. Around sixty-five percent of the population of Austria received full vaccination – one of the lowermost rates in western Europe.
Currently, the one-week infection rate is over eight hundred cases per one hundred thousand people, which is one of the highest in Europe. In general, Europe has become the region most severally-affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and many countries are introducing restrictions and warnings of mounting cases. However, the United Kingdom, which has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates, has yet to bring back restrictions, despite health officials demanding rules such as implementing mandatory face masks in enclosed and crowded spaces to avoid winter crisis.
It is happening.
Austria has announced they will have a lockdown for the unvaccinated.
They will have police out on the streets checking peoples papers to see if their medical status allows them to be outside.
Imagine telling someone this 1 year ago.
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) November 14, 2021
Lockdown for Unvaccinated and a Wave of Opposition
On Monday, the officials introduced measures in Austria amid increasing pressure on the hospitals, which will initially last for ten days. Kids under the age of twelve and people who recently recovered from the virus will be exempt from mandatory vaccinations. Over the weekend, several people protested outside the chancellery in Vienna, the capital, and waved banners with statements like: “Our bodies, our freedom to decide.”
The unvaccinated people were already banned from visiting cinemas, restaurants and hairdressers, but will now be expected to stay at home after the federal announcement. According to the Austrian government, police will perform spot checks in public areas to find the vaccination status of people. However, critics questioned whether the announcement was constitutional. The far-right Freedom Party stated that the lockdown declaration would create a group of second-class citizens.
New Measures against Unvaccinated in other European Countries
The German Health Minister Jens Spahn previously warned of a pandemic of unvaccinated, and the state and federal leaders are due to meet later this week to discuss possible new restrictions. The 67.3 percent vaccination rate of Germany is greater than Austria, but not by much. Germany selected Austria as a higher-risk area, meaning anybody arriving from the republic must experience quarantine.
The Netherlands authorities announced to impose lockdown-lite measures to curb social contacts in response to a sharp infection surge. Moreover, the measures include barring spectators from sporting events and early closing for shops and restaurants. Around eighty-four percent of Dutch adults received full vaccination. Similarly, vaccination rates are significantly lower in some eastern European countries.
Last month, Latvia re-imposed lockdown measures as only fifty-nine percent of the population received full vaccination. It also barred policymakers who refused to receive vaccines from voting on laws and participating in debates until the middle of 2022. After that, they will also see their pay deduction. According to Our World In Data, just around thirty-five percent of the population in Russia received full vaccination.
Moscow closed schools, restaurants, and shops in a partial lockdown at the end of October and gave nine days paid holiday to control new infections. Some other nations are also introducing precautionary measures applying only to the unvaccinated. Furthermore, Austria will ban unvaccinated individuals from sports events, pubs, and restaurants from 17th December. On the other hand, Singapore announced that those people who remain unvaccinated by will should pay for their own medical bills.
Europe – the Coronavirus Epicenter
Europe is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak again, encouraging some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns. For example, Austria has one of the highest infection rates in Continent Europe, with a 7-day incidence of around eight hundred and fifteen per one hundred thousand individuals. In addition, it is the first European nation to recall the same restrictions on daily movements that were executed during the national lockdowns before COVID-19 vaccines rolled out. Still, these measures only affect a minority of the population.
Karl Nehammer, the Interior Minister of Austria, said that there would be in-depth police checks and dines of up to $1660 for breaches. And all interactions with the police will include checking the vaccination status of people. Nehammer told the press conference, as of tomorrow, every individual, every citizen who lives in Austria, must be aware that police can check them.
Showing an official coronavirus/vaccination pass proving that a person received the vaccination, recovered from coronavirus, or recently tested for the virus will now be required for months in several public places like cafes, restaurants, pubs, hairdressers, and theaters.