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COVID Hysteria: Austria, the First EU Country to Lock Down the Unvaccinated

¿Cómo se vive en Austria? El primer país en confinar a los no vacunados

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Austria was the first country in Europe to confine citizens not vaccinated against COVID. At least 2 million people have not yet received a dose of the drug. But what is this situation like?

To answer this question, El American talked to Kevin Christian Tait, historian and diplomat based in Austria. The measure established that unvaccinated people could only leave their houses for limited purposes: work or buy food. However, he explained that unable to enforce this confinement, the government decided to confine the entire population.

“We have a strict confinement for everyone that is going to end on December 12, but only for those who are vaccinated. Here the distinction of vaccinated and unvaccinated is very present, very tangible because the stores on the streets, for example, have signs that say ‘2G’ which in German means vaccinated/recovered, which makes it very clear that a person who does not have the vaccine has no right to enter that store,” said Tait. 

He assured that as of February 1, everyone living in Austria must report for vaccination, and if not, (although the law is still under discussion), Tait estimates that there will be fines of around 7,000 euros.

About 65% of Austrians are fully vaccinated. However, this is one of the lowest rates in Western Europe. This has allowed the government to insist on placing restrictions on those who do not choose to be immunized. 

“What worries me now in Austria is that all the newspapers speak with one voice and there is no room for an opposition,” Tait stressed that no one can present arguments for refusing the vaccine.

Added to this situation is now the appearance of Omicron. For the historian, this means that in addition to pressuring mandatory vaccination, a booster dose will be requested.

“Questions need to be raised about this mandatory vaccination law, whether it is only the first two doses or whether the booster is also included. Questioning whether children would have to be vaccinated, etc. There are official discussions and politicians from all parties, with the exception of the only right-wing party that is very clearly opposed to this law and is not part of this commission. I think that by December 6, the Government is going to present the complete law to the population. Then we will have more or less a month to have a popular discussion, and hopefully it will be a free one”.

Un grupo de manifestantes durante una protesta contra las medidas anti-covid del Gobierno de Austria. EFE/Jorge Dastis/Archivo
A group of demonstrators during a protest against the Austrian government’s anti-covid measures. (EFE)

Austria’s economy and society

But these measures not only have social consequences, but also economic ones. The diplomat pointed out that excluding 30% of the population means a drop in income. Despite the fact that, according to the government program, stores, restaurants, bars can present their income for the past year, and based on that income, they will be compensated by the government.

“It’s interesting because the unvaccinated pay taxes so that the Government can pay that compensation.”

Tait added that there are calls for protests by the unvaccinated against these government measures. “If they cannot force a national debate on this law, they are considering going on a permanent strike starting December 12 in case there are no changes in the law or that it is not totally abandoned.”

Finally, he maintained that there must be a response from the citizenry because freedom is the most important value for any society. “Above all, the freedom to choose what we want to do with our bodies and with our health, because it is a fundamental right. We have a lot of open questions about the effects and consequences of this vaccine, and we don’t have the information we need in order to freely make a decision about getting vaccinated or not.”

Williams Perdomo es periodista y escritor, especializado en las fuentes Política y Cultura.

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