Austrian leader says lockdown for the unvaccinated is likely
Austria’s chancellor on Thursday stepped up threats of lockdown measures for unvaccinated people, as new coronavirus cases in the Alpine nation are soaring. The country’s worst-affected province said it plans to take that step next week.
Austria has taken a series of measures in recent weeks in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and encourage more people to get vaccinated. On Monday, new rules took effect barring unvaccinated people who haven’t recovered from an infection from restaurants, hotels, hairdressing salons and large public events.
Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said late last month that unvaccinated people in Austria could face new lockdown restrictions if infection numbers continue to rise — which they have. On Thursday, official figures showed 760.6 reported new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days — a rate three times that of neighboring Germany, where record numbers also are causing alarm.
During a visit Thursday to Bregenz in western Austria, Schallenberg said that a lockdown for the unvaccinated is “probably unavoidable” and that the unvaccinated face an “uncomfortable” winter and Christmas, the Austria Press Agency reported.
“I don’t see why two-thirds should lose their freedom because one-third is dithering,” Schallenberg said. “For me, it is clear that there should be no lockdown for the vaccinated out of solidarity for the unvaccinated.”
Upper Austria province, the country’s worst-affected region with nearly 1,200 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, said later Thursday that it plans to take the lead.
Officials there “plan a lockdown for unvaccinated people from Monday, provided that there is a legal green light from the federal government, or rather that the federal government creates the legal basis,” governor Thomas Stelzer said.
Schallenberg said authorities would consider a vaccine mandate for some professional groups. He added that the country’s vaccination rate is “shamefully low.” About 65% of the population is fully inoculated.
The chancellor insisted that “we can break this wave together.”
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French President Emmanuel Macron Says Someone Who Refuses COVID Vaccine Is ‘Not a Citizen’
French president Macron’s desire to ‘piss off’ unvaccinated individuals triggers outrage
French President Emmanuel Macron faced significant criticism for his comments claiming that he would like to “piss off” unvaccinated individuals.
Macron spoke candidly during an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien, during which he said that he wanted to make life difficult for individuals who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The French “sanitary pass” has prompted a number of protests and stiff opposition while the country nears 75% full vaccination.
“I really want to piss them off, and we’ll carry on doing this – to the end,” Macron said three months ahead of a presidential election. “I won’t send [unvaccinated people] to prison, so we need to tell them, from 15 January, you will no longer be able to go to the restaurant. You will no longer be able to go for a coffee, you will no longer be able to go to the theatre. You will no longer be able to go to the cinema.”
The French Parliament heard Macron’s comments during a debate over his proposed bill to tighten restrictions for unvaccinated individuals, leading to a swift and strong uproar in response.
His opponents have labeled the comments “unworthy” of a president.
“Even if one doesn’t share their choice, they have broken none of our country’s laws,” Marine Le Pen, Macron’s chief opponent in the upcoming election, told reporters late Tuesday. “He is continuing his policy of division, of pitting the French against one another.”
She later tweeted “A president shouldn’t say that…Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.”
Leftist politician Jean-Luc Melanchon described the remarks as an “astonishing confession,” according to the BBC.
But Macron’s allies have defended the comments, with Stéphane Séjourné, a member of the European Parliament, arguing on Twitter that unvaccinated individuals have “bothered” the French by “forcing the rest of the population to endure restrictions.”
Debate over Macron’s bill continue into Wednesday as opponents still seek to delay its passage. Some of his supporters claimed to have received death threats because they are backing the legislation, The New York Times reported.
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