Science

In Austria, the unvaccinated banished from society – sciences et Avenir

Austria on Monday became the first EU country to confine people not vaccinated against Covid-19 and began vaccinating children as young as five as Europe faces a resumption of the epidemic.

“It is not for joy that we have partially deprived part of the population of their freedom,” Conservative Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told AFP.

But this measure “is already paying off,” he said, citing “the massive increase in registrations at vaccination centers.”

According to official statistics, almost half a million people received a dose last week in the Central European country, including 128,813 for the first time.

To stop the “vicious cycle” of virus spread and increase the “woefully low” vaccination rate of its population (65% to date), Austria is using all means.

Since Monday, people over 12 years old who are not immune after contracting Covid or not vaccinated over 12 years old, or two million inhabitants, have not been able to leave their homes except to do their shopping, play sports or receive medical care.

Under penalty of incurring a fine of 500 euros in case of inspection.

– Return of restrictions in Europe –

The “situation is serious”, launched this Sunday the head of Government, given the rebound in new cases, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic: 12,000 per day on average in this country of 8.9 million inhabitants.

A wind of concern is blowing over Europe, where pollution is increasing and restrictions are returning, as in the Netherlands, where partial containment has been reintroduced.

Faced with the rebound, France reinstated the use of mandatory masks in primary school on Monday, while the United Kingdom extended the third dose to over 40s.

And in Latvia, the unvaccinated can now be fired.

But Austria is the only one in the European Union (EU) that has come to confine them, after having already excluded them from restaurants, hotels or hairdressers, which infuriates part of the population.

– “Discrimination” –

“Welcome to apartheid,” a group called the Corona Info Initiative on Monday accused the government of designating “scapegoats.”

Austria is installing “a two-class system”, outraged Nikolaus Unterguggenberger, a 57-year-old teacher whose family is not vaccinated. He says his children had to suspend their music lessons due to the new rules.

“I was afraid it would come to this, but that it was adopted so easily surprises me,” he told AFP. By considering the illegal move, you intend to keep dating and meeting friends.

A demonstration supported by the far-right party FPÖ, whose anti-vaccine leader has just announced that it is positive for Covid 19, is scheduled for next Saturday.

“It’s outright discrimination,” Sabine, a 49-year-old energy advisor, was offended at a rally Sunday, who did not want to give her last name. “Of course, my life, my freedom are hampered.”

Arguments defended by the Chancellor, who swears not to violate the Constitution.

– “Safe” Christmas –

The youngest also participate in Vienna.

Even if the European regulator has not yet given its approval for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech serum in children aged 5 to 11, the Austrian capital has chosen to take the initiative.

“We feel calm,” reacts Gerald Schwarzl, 41, who attended the launch of this unprecedented program within the EU on Monday with his two children.

Pia, eight years old, black dress and pink FFP2 mask, blonde hair, says she was “a little” scared but she is very proud to leave with her “Ninja pass”, which is named after the sesame that is given to children. children in Austria.

In the city center, merchants and passers-by interviewed by AFP generally welcomed these new measures.

“We do what needs to be done and we want everyone to feel safe,” explains Daniel Stocker, manager of the Christmas market located in the town hall square, which had to be canceled last year due to a pandemic.

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