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Austria set to place millions of unvaccinated people in lockdown, as chancellor slams ‘shameful’ shot uptake

<i>Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images</i><br/>Austria is days away from ordering millions of unvaccinated people to stay at home
Getty Images
Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images
Austria is days away from ordering millions of unvaccinated people to stay at home

By Rob Picheta and Nadine Schmidt, CNN

Austria is days away from ordering millions of unvaccinated people to stay at home, its chancellor has said, in a rare move that underscores the increasing exasperation of European leaders towards those who have not yet been inoculated against Covid-19.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told reporters on Friday that the government should give the “green light” for the move this weekend.

“The aim is clear: we want on Sunday to give the green light for a nationwide lockdown for the unvaccinated,” Schallenberg said at a news conference in Innsbruck.

He had earlier called the country’s vaccination rate “shamefully low,” and hinted that the measure would be triggered within days. “In other states that rate is a lot higher — it is shameful as we have enough vaccines available,” Schallenberg said at a separate press conference on Thursday.

His warning came as a wave of Covid-19 infections sweeps central Europe. A three-week partial lockdown was announced in the Netherlands on Friday evening, Reuters reported, with health officials recording a rapid rise in cases there.

“Tonight we are bringing a very unpleasant message with very unpleasant and far-reaching measures,” Dutch caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a televised address, ordering restaurants, supermarkets and non-essential retailers to close early and re-imposing social distancing measures. “The virus is everywhere and needs to be combated everywhere.”

Norway also announced new measures on Friday, while people in the German capital Berlin are preparing for fresh restrictions that come into place on Monday.

Under Austria’s plan, which was agreed in September, unvaccinated Austrians will face a stay-at-home order once 30% of intensive-care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients. The current rate is 21%, according to the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), and a surge in infections has pushed it up quickly.

Unvaccinated people are already excluded from entertainment venues, restaurants, hairdressers and other parts of public life in Austria. If the new measures come into place, the unvaccinated will be ordered to stay home except for a few limited reasons; the rules will be policed by officers carrying out spot checks on those who are out.

Around 65% of Austria’s population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lower rates in the European Union.

”It is clear that this winter will be uncomfortable for the unvaccinated,” Schallenberg warned on Thursday.

“A lockdown for the unvaccinated means one cannot leave one’s home unless one is going to work, shopping for essentials, stretching one’s legs — namely exactly what we all had to suffer through in 2020,” he said.

After Schallenberg’s announcement, the governor of the province of Upper Austria, in the northwest of the country, pushed to introduce the measure in his own province soon. The region is the country’s worst-affected area, with Stelzer calling the situation in his province “dramatic.”

Schallenberg’s tone encapsulated the frustration that several European governments have expressed towards unvaccinated pockets of society, as a wave of Covid-19 infections sweeps the region.

In neighboring Germany, ministers have ramped up their rhetoric towards those who are not inoculated. Its capital Berlin announced on Wednesday it will ban people who are not vaccinated from indoor dining, bars, gyms, hairdressers and cinemas from next week.

Vaccine rates vary across Europe but get steadily lower towards the east of the continent.

German officials meanwhile warned on Thursday the country remains in the grips of a ”very worrying” rise in Covid-19 cases and advised residents to “urgently to cancel or avoid larger events if possible, but also to reduce all other unnecessary contacts.”

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s seven-day incidence rate has risen to 263.7 cases per 100,000 people — up from 169.9 cases reported a week ago.

Authorities in the country’s wealthiest state, Bavaria, declared a state of emergency on Thursday. ”The coronavirus pandemic threatens the lives and health of a large number of people throughout the state of Bavaria,” a statement published by the state premier’s office on Wednesday said, adding that ”in many hospitals, there are already no or only very few capacities available.”

The Norwegian government said on Friday it would reintroduce “a few more national measures” to “reduce the [Covid-19] infection” in the country. Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said “unvaccinated people over the age of 18, who live with someone who is infected with the virus, will have a duty to get tested,” adding the obligation would apply from November 17.

The government will also advise municipalities to start testing unvaccinated healthcare workers twice a week, with a clear message that they must wear a mask, according to the statement.

For the second consecutive week, Europe was the only region in the world where cases and deaths were found to be climbing in the World Health Organization’s weekly global report.

Between November 1 and 7, there was a 1% increase in new weekly cases, the update said, and just over 3.1 million new cases were reported. The region also reported a 10% increase in new deaths over the last week.

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    1. Except for the fact that every peer reviewed research study has shown that lockdowns actually create higher case numbers as transmission overwhelmingly happens at home. Brilliant move once again.

      1. This ^^^^. Studies have shown lockdowns do not work! You will find reports though of things like “models show there would have been more infections if not for lockdowns” BUT these models are based on the ASSUMPTION that lockdowns do work!.

      2. Can you cite any study that has reached this conclusion in this context? That is, where only the unvaccinated have been subjected to a lockdown order, while their vaccinated family members (if any) are not?

        1. Why don’t you try and explain the indonesia numbers than Martha. One of the lowest vaccination rate in the world, dense populations, close to 2 billion people, and cases are minimal from there highs? How could that be. Than go check out the Norwegian countries who have the highest vax rate with cases going through the roof. The spread has nothing to do with the vax rate and if any the numbers show the virus spread is more in higher vaxed countries. Please stop the misinformation.

          1. “Some of this decline may be just occurring because the virus has already cut such a large swath, but Indonesia is also taking more proactive measures. It has begun to amass more vaccines from China, as well as donations from New Zealand and other countries, and leading officials have begun to more aggressively battle vaccine hesitancy. The country also has bolstered its testing and tracing capacities.”

        1. Got it, got better like 99.9%. Now I have natural antibodies and you can find plenty of qualified people on both sides arguing natural immunity vs. the shot.

    2. Cmon Barney! Blue Danube can imply “anti-vaxxers” should be locked down and you’ll allow it. Yet I rebuttal with the challenge to try it, and my comment is deleted? Was it so provocative of me to suggest such a move from our “elites” might get pushback in the U.S.? Giving platform to the left support of tyranny, and shutting down the right warning against such actions, does nothing for debate and biases this platform. If people want to support locking us “anti-vaxxers” down, I would think it wise to hear our side of it before that’s tried. Does that more subtly get the message across in a way that doesn’t scare a leftist?

        1. I would contend that “try it” simply warns there would be resistance. Going to the extent of violence, I believe most would prefer not to “go there.” All I’m asking is that the voice of us that are being recommended for discrimination against not be silenced. That is the best way to have a two way conversation that doesn’t escalate to violence. If the “anti-vaxxers” drawing a line: that we would resist oppression, is not headed, or worse isn’t even heard due to media outlets not allowing “scary” speech, then how do you expect things to play out?

        2. There absolutely no implication. Of course there would be violence if that were to be tried here in the U.S. He is just saying it would be a direct result of trying to implement the same policy in the U.S. Do you really believe people would tolerate that here? Not a chance.

            1. “Test the line?” You kidding? Not doing anything of the sort. It’s a discussion of what the real effects and outcomes of these policies would most likely lead to. There is no threat to that so give it a rest. It’s a true discussion about what would most likely happen if attempted here. This is not an endorsement in any way. Would it be a good thing? Of course not. Would it most likely happen? Of course it would.

  1. If these mrna vaccines were better vaccines then the folks would not be refusing them. The more we learn about these “wonderdrugs” the less we are inclined to want them injected into our bodies. But people who only get their news from CNN don’t know there are better ways of dealing with Corona than these leaky vaccines — for example have a look at India’s latest statistics I’ll give you a hint: most of the Indian states started using Ivermectin-based home treatment kits in May or June. A few held out for vaccines and you’ll see them still in the red zone in the top of my link.

      1. Pfizer’s billions can buy any propaganda they need to fight against the use of other successful treatments for Covid. But do you really think India’s very low Covid count today can be explained by lockdowns and vaccinations at a far lower rate than ours? And notice that the Indian Health Authority didn’t repudiate the use of Ivermectin until after they’d saved their 1.3 Billion people from the Covid disaster facing them last Spring before they approved the use of the Ivermectin kits. Their “repudiation” just illustrates again the immense power of Big Pharma. You gotta’ look at the results, not what people are paid to say about the results.

  2. Kindly consider those of us who can’t take the vax, due to medical reasons, such as Guillain Barre Syndrome. According to Blue Danube, we should all be locked up.
    My father, a 2nd Lieutenant US Army Air Corps, and my uncle, medic USS Napa, fought during WW2 to fight for our freedom, NOT to have future generations locked up because we can’t or won’t take a rushed through vaccination.

    1. We all should have a choice what we allow in our bodies! The division and fear propaganda machine aka mainstream media (That includes YOU KTVZ!) have been the catalyst driving the vaxed people against anyone who thinks differently. It’s morally wrong at every level..

      1. Eastern Europe is almost completely extremely right wing (read fascist). that is where they were forced to attempt to mediate the continued spread of the virus due to the right wing’s narratives.

        The only places in our country where any kind of non-vaccinated lockdown would occur would of course correlate to the extreme right wing states or counties (again read fascist).

        The death rates are 8 times higher in the extremely right wing counties.
        No need to lock down blue states.

  3. If my paternal grandparents and my father were alive, they would be disgusted at today’s burgeoning resemblance to Germany, following WW1. They left the German Free State of Danzig in 1926 because Opa hated the divisiveness and hatred that was becoming rampant in his beloved homeland. They were Lutheran and Oma was 8 months pregnant with my father.
    We need to be very cognizant of the fact that if we don’t learn from History, we are doomed to repeat it.

    1. Why yes American does currently reflect the decadence of Weimar Republic Germany.

      I am unsure if your worried about the right wing’s divisiveness & violent fascist leanings due to their resemblance to Weimar republic Germany?
      Or are worried about the narrative that the left are the fascists? (because of trying to save lives)

      I know the disinformation is hard to filter through, judge with your heart the pain inflicted by the extremism of the trump oligarchy. Who was locked up in cages? who were chased down in the streets and slaughtered by uniformed thugs? Who had Nazi flags waving in 21 century America?

      My paternal great uncle was a hero, who smuggled photographic evidence out of the eastern european nazi death camps. It was the first proof that the allied forces had of Nazi germany’s foul slaughterhouses of innocent men, women & children.

      I think he would also be disgusted with The Trump/Republican Cages filled with innocent children.
      I would hope we all felt disgust.

      1. Middle Way, I’d advise you look into who made those cages, you’ll find it was Obama/Biden, and who is using em now, Biden, though you won’t see it reported as the media runs cover. “Funny” this comes from Austria; seems I’ve heard of someone born there that caused some problems in the 1930’s and 40’s. Over that time the majority of the world had no clue what was going on, though the New York Times buried it. My grandfather was one of the first into Auschwitz, he never spoke of it further. Look at history, learn, and don’t tell me to, “just trust or leaders.” This isn’t political, it’s eerie, and starting to look like 3/4 of the way through the 10 stages of genocide. You all take the shot and fall in, I’ll stand back and watch the show.

  4. It is imperative for all of us to realize that BOTH sides of the political aisle are governed by disingenuous people who have their own agendas. They clearly love all of the divisiveness that is ongoing.
    We need to look at the bigger picture and stop turning on each other.

  5. This could be challenging for some to understand ~ and yes the article is a few days old (11/4) but the information is there, pretty clear.

    If you read through the article/interview, breakthrough cases amongst the vaccinated are on the rise because of relaxed safety protocols in certain EU countries. And then there’s Russia where many people choose not to believe in government (Putin propaganda). Sound familiar?

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