COVID-19 | Austria limits itself, Germany worries

(Berlin) “Vaccinated, cured or dead” at the end of winter: Germany on Monday expressed its deep concern about the explosion of contaminations with COVID-19 while its Austrian neighbor began a new confinement, a measure unprecedented in Europe since the vast vaccination Bell.

Yannick PASQUET in BERLIN with Anne BEADE and Denise HRUBY in VIENNE
French Media Agency

But the return of anti-COVID-19 restrictions sparked violence over the weekend in several countries in Europe, which has once again become the epicenter of the pandemic, especially in the Netherlands where the Prime Minister denounced acts of “pure violence by ‘idiots’.

In a shocking formula, German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that “almost everyone will be vaccinated, cured or killed” before “probably the end of winter” due to the spread of the Delta variant “very, very contagious. “which has been wreaking havoc for several weeks.

While the number of new daily contaminations surpassed a record of more than 65,000 last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel also warned of a “highly dramatic situation.”

The current restrictions “are no longer enough,” he warned, just four days after deciding with his likely successor Olaf Scholz on severe coercive measures against the unvaccinated.

In Germany, as in neighboring Austria, the vaccination rate is less than 70%, a lower level than in other European countries such as France, where it reaches 75%.

The Austrians, despite strong complaints voiced on the streets this weekend, have once again been confined from midnight to December 13.

Shops, restaurants, Christmas markets, concerts or hairdressers lowered the curtain on Monday in Vienna and the rest of the country. But the schools remain open and the streets of the capital were quite crowded first thing in the morning.

“Radical” measures

Since the availability of anti-coronavirus serums to as many people as possible, no country in the European Union has dared to take the step.

Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz had declared the pandemic “over”, at least for those vaccinated.

Arrived in October, his successor Alexander Schallenberg “has maintained the fiction for too long” that everything was fine, comments political scientist Thomas Hofer, interviewed by AFP.

Faced with the increase in cases that have reached unprecedented levels since the beginning of the pandemic, he had to take “radical” measures that, however, he had initially excluded.

In addition to this confinement, vaccination of the adult population will become mandatory on February 1, 2022, which very few countries in the world have introduced so far.

“I was hoping it didn’t come to this, especially now that we have the vaccine. It’s dramatic, ”says Andreas Schneider, a 31-year-old economist who received AFP on a Vienna shopping street just after the government’s announcements on Friday.

In Slovakia, where incidence rates are high, restrictions were introduced for unvaccinated people on Monday.

“We have opted for strict containment of unvaccinated people, because we must protect them,” Prime Minister Eduard Heger said.

Therefore, unvaccinated people can no longer enter non-essential businesses, even with a negative test for coronavirus.

Mass mobilization

In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex was declared positive for COVID-19 on Monday. This resulted in the quarantine in Belgium of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who had received him today.

Four other members of the Belgian government, who also participated in a Franco-Belgian meeting on Monday morning on the security issue, “will also take a PCR test and will remain in quarantine until the test result is negative”, indicated the Belgian Government.

In several European countries, protests against the tightening of anti-COVID-19 measures continued over the weekend.

For the third night in a row, riots broke out in the Netherlands on Sunday. The protesters set off fireworks and caused widespread damage in several cities.

However, these latest demonstrations were less intense than the violence that erupted in Rotterdam on Friday and in The Hague on Saturday.

Also in Brussels, the clashes marked the gathering of some 35,000 protesters on Sunday, according to police. Belgium has announced the widespread use of masks and also wants teleworking to be mandatory for jobs that allow it.

And in the French department of Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean, the challenge to the vaccination obligation of caregivers has degenerated into a major social crisis.

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