AP News: 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.”
The unvaccinated are being discriminated against similar to the way seventh-day Sabbath Keepers will be treated. The enemy is testing the waters to get people used to this tactic.
“The adherents of truth are now called upon to choose between disregarding a plain requirement of God’s word or forfeiting their liberty. If we yield the word of God, and accept human customs and traditions, we may still be permitted to live among men, to buy and sell, and have our rights respected. But if we maintain our loyalty to God, it must be at the sacrifice of our rights among men. For the enemies of God’s law have leagued together to crush out independent judgment in matters of religious faith, and to control the consciences of men. They are determined to put an end to the long-continued controversy concerning the Sabbath, to prohibit all further spread of the truth upon this point, and to secure the exaltation of Sunday, in the very face of the injunction of the fourth commandment.” The Home Missionary, November 1, 1893, par. 18.