COVID-19 | Austria restricts its population and imposes vaccination

(Vienna) Austria will confine its entire population on Monday and has decided to make “vaccination compulsory” from February, becoming the first country in the European Union to take such measures in the face of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.




Anne Beid
France media agency

We have to “look at reality in the face”, said Conservative Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg at a press conference in Tirol, after discussions with all the regional governors.

After a week of suppressing the unvaccinated, it was announced that 8.9 million people were contained as of December 13. Schools remain open, but parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.

He said he was aware that we were asking “a lot” of those vaccinated, “because a lot of people didn’t show solidarity.”

“exit ticket”

Despite months of persuasive work, he said, we haven’t been able to convince enough people to get vaccinated, lamenting the current overload on intensive care units.

“Sustainably increasing the vaccination rate is the only way out of this vicious cycle,” Schallenberg said, calling it an “exit ticket” from the pandemic.

While an increasing number of countries require certification for certain groups, such as health workers, very few in the world require vaccination for all adults.

This is the case in two authoritarian states in Central Asia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, as well as in the Vatican and Indonesia. New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific with broad autonomy, made a similar decision as of the end of December.

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Christmas markets canceled

In Europe, the pandemic is racing and several countries have announced tightening restrictions in recent days.

In Germany, where the action plan is “no longer enough” according to the health authority, Bavaria canceled Christmas markets on Friday the day after announcing stricter measures against non-vaccinators across the region.

Elsewhere in the world, Canada has given the green light for a Pfizer/BioNTech serum for children aged 5-11, similar to the United States or Israel.

Already from Monday in Austria, the two million unvaccinated people are no longer allowed to leave their homes except for shopping, sports or medical care.

From now on, the entire population will be affected by the procedure in this country with a vaccination rate of 66%, which is slightly lower than the European average, despite the introduction of the health passport in the spring.

Non-essential stores, restaurants, concert halls and cinemas will be closed. Remote work is highly recommended.

The government began easing tensions in early November, and the restrictions imposed thereafter led to a marked increase in the number of enrollments at vaccination centres.

But cases continued to increase, reaching levels not seen since the outbreak of the epidemic: on Friday, nearly 16,000 new infections were recorded.

“dictatorship”

“We have a lot of political forces in this country that are vehemently against vaccination,” the chancellor criticized, denouncing the “assault on our health system.”

A demonstration backed by the far-right FPÖ party is scheduled for Saturday in Vienna and thousands are expected to turn out.

The head of anti-vaccine, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, will not be able to attend. “Austria is now a dictatorship!” Herbert Kekel called out in the face of the new measures.

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In Vienna, artisans parading at the capital’s Christmas markets were preparing to repack their goods, a week after opening.

Marcus Horvath testified that “it is unfair that 70% of those who have been vaccinated should confine themselves because 30% are not vaccinated.” The seller I amazed, displaying wooden jewelry, has little hope of reopening in mid-December and expects the reservation to be “extended.”

“I realize half my salary here,” Christian Edmeyer said at another booth. “It will be very, very difficult.”

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