European Countries Face Tighter Restrictions Amid New COVID-19 Wave

As the latest wave of Covid-19 cases hits Europe, with record infection tolls in some areas, several countries impose partial lockdowns and stricter restrictions for the unvaccinated.

Austria is about to become the first Western European country to make Covid-19 jabs mandatory by law and to return to a total lockdown, the government announced on Friday.

According to Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg, the new coronavirus lockdown will be in place for a “maximum of 20 days,” and getting vaccinated would be a requirement from February 1.

“We do not want a fifth wave. Nor do we want a sixth or seventh wave. This is very painful,” Schallenberg stated.

In the meantime, students have to return to homeschooling, and cultural events will be canceled. Also, restaurants and most shops must remain closed.

Such measures have angered Austrians and generated controversy, as Austria is the world’s fourth country to make vaccination mandatory, only after Indonesia, Micronesia and Turkmenistan.

However, Schallenberg said radical anti-vaxxers, fake news and unvaccinated figures are the primary causes behind “overcrowded intensive city and enormous suffering.”

Austria, which has vaccinated around 66% of its residents, has one of the continent’s lowest vaccination rates. Its case toll is among the highest in Western Europe, with a weekly incidence of 971.5 cases per 100,000 people.

“We have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated,” Schallenberg said, adding, “It hurts that such measures still have to be taken.”

Meanwhile, the German government warned it could take similar steps as the fourth wave of infections has plunged Europe’s largest economy into a national emergency.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced yesterday that unvaccinated people were banned from entering shops and restaurants.

As cases mount in the country, with over 65,000 infections recorded in one day, authorities have imposed stricter controls for the unvaccinated and a tiered restrictions system to fight the virus. “It is absolutely time to act,” Merkel said.

According to her plans, access to bars, gyms, restaurants, cinemas and events will remain restricted to unvaccinated people. Also, in regions where Covid-19 infections abound, residents must show a certificate of vaccination or recovery from the virus and a recent negative test.

German authorities said the country’s hospitals are on the verge of collapse, which could force them to impose a new lockdown until December 15.