Several European countries introduced new restrictions this week on people refusing to be vaccinated against covid-19, and there were even announcement from Austria on Friday that vaccination against covid-19 will become mandatory in February.
The new rules are an attempt to vaccinate more people, as the number of Covid-19 cases is growing in much of Europe, and the northern hemisphere is moving into what could be a very gloomy winter for people who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus.
Austria, Germany, Greece, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have introduced new restrictions on unvaccinated people in recent days, barring them from accessing many public spaces. And the whole world is watching as each country tries a slightly different approach to the global problem.
Austria last Monday introduced some of the strictest measures for unvaccinated people across Europe, banning anyone not vaccinated against Covid-19 from leaving their homes other than basic services. But Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg took control of the pandemic on Friday when he announced that vaccination against Covid-19 would be mandatory for all adults from February 1.
Austria, which has a total population of about 9 million, has a vaccination rate against COVID-19 of only 64.8 percent, and the country will enter a national blockade for everyone next week in an effort to protect limited hospital resources, according to the British Independent news.
“No one wants a lock. Tclosure is a last resort, a raw instrument ”, Austrian Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein said, according to the English translation New York Times. “Locking is always an imposition, but it is the most reliable instrument we have to break this fourth wave.”
Austria reported 15,145 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the largest number of the entire pandemic, and 55 new deaths.
Germany announced new restrictions on Thursday, which include a ban on unvaccinated people in almost all public places when it exceeds the hospitalization rate of three patients per 100,000 people in a region. According to reports, twelve of the 16 countries in the country currently have such a level of hospitalization France24.
“With the current dynamics, we are in a very, very difficult situation, especially for all the people who work in hospitals and especially in intensive care,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Thursday, adding that measures would not have been needed if Germany had had a higher vaccination rate.
Germany is battling a vocal minority of antivaxxers and only 67.7% of Germany’s population has been vaccinated against Covid-19, which is significantly higher than in the US but one of the lower rates among rich countries. The covid-19 vaccination rate in the U.S. is currently 59%, while a country like Spain has vaccinated 79.2% of its population.
Germany, a country of 83 million people, reported 58,768 new Covid-19 cases and 207 new deaths on Thursday.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced new restrictions on the unvaccinated on Thursday, banning those who refuse to get stabbed in almost all indoor spaces, according to the Greek Reporter. The unvaccinated are now barred from accessing gyms, cinemas, and even churches, although believers are allowed to show a negative test for covid-19 if they still want to go and pray without vaccination.
Greece, with a population of just over 10 million people, reported 7,276 new cases and 63 new deaths on Thursday. The vaccination rate against Covid-19 in Greece is only 60.6%.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced on Wednesday new restrictions that would ban unvaccinated people from accessing most public spaces, including restaurants and concerts. An exception has been made for individuals who have had covid-19 in the past six months.
Czech Republic, which has approximately a population 11 million, reported 14,186 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday and 60 deaths from the disease. Only 58.2% of the country’s population has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Slovakia introduced new restrictions on the unvaccinated this week, banning them from accessing most public spaces, as hospitals become flooded with patients from Covid-19, according to a new report from Al Jazeera.
Slovakia, which has a population of about 5.5 million people, reported 8,756 new cases and 38 deaths from the disease on Thursday. Only 42.7% of the Slovak population has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, other countries in Europe like France insist that they do not have to introduce new restrictions for the unvaccinated, but that could obviously change if cases continue to worsen across the continent. TThe U.S. should probably keep notes from countries with similarly low vaccination rates as hospitals across the country become flooded. U.S. cases are rising again, with 114,361 new cases on Thursday alone and 1,213 new deaths from the disease. And many states are left without intensive care beds, as in Minnesota where federal emergency teams from the Department of Defense are is deployed.
This pandemic will not end until the vast majority of the world is vaccinated. And that won’t happen anytime soon. If you have not been vaccinated against covid-19, there is still time and it is free. Getting the vaccine is literally the least we can do to help us return to a version of the normal state that does not involve a huge number of deaths each day from a disease that can now be completely prevented.
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