Austria Imposes First Post-Vaccine Rollout COVID-19 Lockdown and Announces Mandatory Vaccination Regime for the Entire Nation

Monday, November 22 marked another historic turn in the battle against Covid-19 and the rising state of authoritarianism around the globe.

Austria imposed its fourth national coronavirus lockdown – shutting down all non-essential shops, bars, and cafés for all citizens. This move came only a week after the government imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated, and it marks the first time that a country has imposed a lockdown after the vaccine rollout.  

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, who was sworn in on October 11 after the former chancellor Sebastian Kurz resigned amid a corruption inquiry, defended his move in an interview with CNN’s Hala Gorani.

“My approach was to get the non-vaccinated to get the vaccine instead of locking up… or locking down the vaccinated part of society. The problem is the numbers are extremely dynamic in Austria. And we only have 66% of the population [vaccinated]. And so we decided for twenty days to install a full lockdown which includes everybody in the society, and I’m very saddened that we have to take this approach because I could have hoped we could avoid it.”

Chancellor Schallenberg speaks on the latest lockdown in Austrai
CNN Reporter Hala Gorani interviews the Austrian Chancellor about the nation’s Covid-19 lockdown and vaccine mandate.

When asked by Gorani what would happen to citizens who ignore the lockdown, Chancellor Schallenberg responded, “Well, obviously, there will be controls.” He did not elaborate on what those controls would be. He did however go on to say that science had provided a potential ticket out of “the vicious cycle” of lockdowns – vaccines.

To that end, the Austrian government announced a vaccine mandate that will force all eligible citizens to be vaccinated by February 1, 2022. It is the first European country to impose such a requirement.

Schallenberg stated that the specific details of the mandate would be left to experts. He defended the move as rational and in-step with common public health practices.   

“Many other EU states and western states have mandatory vaccines in other areas like smallpox and so on. … And we have decided instead of separating different parts of the society and the economy that we have a general horizontal obligation for everybody.”

Chancellor Schallenberg defends Austria’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

Current reports on the rule suggest that it will leave open the potential for a medical exemption. However, the age range of affected citizens remains unknown. At its broadest, it has the potential to impact nearly one-third of Austrians who have chosen to remain unvaccinated.

Schallenberg acknowledged that the mandate was “a drastic measure,” but claimed it was the only logical response in the face of vaccine hesitancy. Hesitancy which he placed in large part at the feet of Austria’s conservative Freedom party – one of the three biggest parties in the Austrian government.

“[I]f one year in of having the vaccine, having national campaigns, of having media explain again and again of what this is about, that we have such a high degree of insecurity of people believing in fake news. And yes, we do have a political force in Austria, the Freedom party, which is openly campaigning against the vaccination. This is something which separates Austria from other countries. So, we … have a necessity to take this drastic step.”

Chancellor Schallenberg decries the Austrian people’s resistance to Covid-19 vaccines.

When pressed on this statement, Schallenberg clarified that there were other factors at play. He cited citizens’ socioeconomic backgrounds, mistrust in science, and belief in alternative healthcare remedies as potential culprits for vaccine hesitancy. Ultimately, he claimed that regardless of the reasons, the vaccine mandate was the only way forward.  

He told Gorani that administrative fines would be the punishment for noncompliance, but stated that the ultimate sum would be set by legal experts. According to The Guardian, the fines will likely be eligible for conversion to prison sentences for those unable to afford it – a problem more likely to occur in the face of lockdowns.

A Vienna protestor holds up a sign reading “Austria’s Lockdown Chancellor.” | Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

In response to the announcement, nearly 40,000 protesters gathered in Vienna’s streets on Saturday. They join a growing movement of beleaguered freedom protestors around the globe who have continued the on-again-off-again battle against Covid-19 inspired tyranny – Australia, Belgium, Brussels, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Guadeloupe, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

A Potential Domino Effect…

While the resistance lives on, this latest crackdown on citizen’s rights to bodily autonomy marks further confirmation of reports that authoritarianism is on the rise in the western world and stokes fears that other countries may follow in Austria’s footsteps and strip their citizens of the right to bodily autonomy – all in the name of the greater good.

“The message is clear that we have a greater good we have to safeguard – that’s the public health in this country. And yes, we are intervening in the private sphere of every person, but this is for the greater good.”

Chancellor Schallenberg’s defense of Austria’s Covid-19’s vaccine mandate.

Post by CJ Fisher

2 Comments

  1. mickmar21 says:

    People are pissed off at the levels of control that many governments have gained and trying to force a population to submit without a whimper is going to have the opposite effect. The problem the politicians have is they enjoyed almost 2 years of increasing power and compliant populations and they cannot imagine that changing.

    I wager that the protests around the world will grow and become more violent until a balance is found.

    Liked by 1 person

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