Covid: Germany worries, Austria confined to a backdrop of anger in Europe

“Vaccinated, cured or dead” at the end of winter: Germany expressed its deep concern on Monday about the explosion of contaminations by Covid-19 while its Austrian neighbor began a new containment, a measure unprecedented in Europe since the vast vaccination campaign.

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.

Although the number of new daily contaminations surpassed a record of more than 65,000 last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel, at the exit, 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%.

A hot dog vendor with no customers on November 22, 2021 on a street in central Vienna where the crowd disappeared following the announcement of a lockdown in an attempt to deal with the new wave of Covid-19 (AFP – JOE KLAMAR)

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.

“The situation is a bit confusing,” testifies a resident, Kathrin Pauser, after dropping off her 9 and 11-year-old daughters, both recently vaccinated.

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.

As in previous confinements, the 8.9 million Austrians are, on paper, prohibited from going out except to go shopping, play sports or receive medical attention.

It is also possible to go to the office, although teleworking is recommended.

– “Chaos” –

The scenario was still unthinkable a few weeks ago.

Former Conservative 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 we wouldn’t get there, 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 announcements on Friday.

– Mass mobilization –

The reaction was swift: on Saturday, some 40,000 people took to the streets to cry out for “dictatorship”, at the convocation of the far-right party FPÖ.

The following day, in Linz (north), another demonstration mobilized thousands of protesters.

In other parts of Europe, frustrations are also raging.

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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