Europe has seen a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Austria, in response, has imposed a new lockdown which will selectively apply to unvaccinated individuals.
Austria is experiencing an extremely difficult period of the pandemic. They are experiencing a record number of COVID cases and the pressure on Austrian hospitals is becoming unmanageable. Following this, the government has imposed new lockdown measures for those that have not received the COVID-19 vaccine. The unvaccinated will only have the permission to leave their household for essential reasons such as work.
This new lockdown will not apply to children under the age of 12 or individuals who recently recovered from the virus.
Austria’s vaccination rate is around 64.3%, one of the lowest in Europe and one of the highest infection rates (around 800 cases per 100 000 people). Many scientists are referring to these numbers to exemplify that vaccination prevents the spread of disease.
Earlier in 2021, Austria had introduced the ‘Grüner Pass’ system where a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID test was required to go to any public places. In order to enforce the level of control and ensure the respect for the new lockdown, Austrian police will carry out public checks for the Grüner Pass.
Austrian far-right politicians esteem that this authoritarian measure will cause a social divide.
Since the introduction of this new policy, the Austrian government has revised its decision and rather opted for a full 2-week lockdown before Christmas. Moreover, Austria has become the first country in the world to make the vaccine a compulsory legal requirement by February 22.
Expectedly, this new decision has led to mass riots and uprisings in Austria (particularly in Vienna). On the 20th of November 2020, tens of thousands of people marched in the capital’s streets to express their discontent.
Most rioters and members of the uprisings have marched on the basis that the new legal requirements for the vaccine are a form of contemporary dictatorship and a removal of civil liberties.
It must also be noted that Austria is one of the European countries with the highest levels of conspiracists in regards to the validity and effectiveness of the vaccine. This has fueled the violence and the intensity of the uprisings, as well as hindered the vaccination rate of the country (and hence its high epidemic resurgence).