Austria will lock down again: care relieved, opposition savage

The vaccination obligation and lockdown announced by the government in Austria lead to divided reactions. Relief sounds from the medical corner, the political opposition is indignant.

The decision to go into lockdown for at least ten and a maximum of twenty days from Monday is coming hard with entrepreneurs. In the run-up to Christmas, they see a part of their turnover going up in smoke again. The decision is also a blow to Christmas markets, which are important to many Austrians. The industry had to make up for a billion-dollar loss last year, but that possibility now seems to be lost. The Austrian Minister of Finance has pledged new support for entrepreneurs who are being hit hard.

But the current high number of infections leaves the country no other options than the hard measures that are being taken now, finds the medical association that represents, among other things, the Austrian intensive care unit. Chairman Walter Hasibeder therefore applauds the steps, even though he finds the decision taken late. He pointed out that the effect of the now skyrocketing infection rates will only be visible in hospitals in the long term, if the number of admissions and the IC occupation will increase.

In general, the population understands measures that should control the rapid spread of the virus. In Austria, 65% of all residents are fully vaccinated. So far, about a third of the people, including children, have not been vaccinated despite repeated calls from government and doctors.

Figures from the Austrian health institute AGES show that the number of positive tests among non-vaccinated persons is four to eight times higher than among people who have been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the opposition is very critical of the vaccination obligation and lockdown. According to the Liberal Party NEOS, Chancellor Schallenbergs government failed. If she had already intervened harder in the summer or early fall, the lockdown and vaccination obligation would not be necessary now, says party leader Beate Meinl-Reisinger. She says this harms the trust of people who adhered to all the rules for months and did get vaccinated.

What will not help in processing this measure is that a few months ago the then Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the pandemic for people who have been vaccinated was over and that there would certainly be no more lockdown for vaccinated people. His party, the Christian Democratic ร–VP, had even hanged posters that read The pandemic, combating the crisis.

From the government itself, there was also some cautious self-criticism to be heard. The Minister of Health, Wolfgang Mรผckstein, found that the government did not live up to its own ambitions in some places.

The fierce criticism from a political angle came from Herbert Kickl, chairman of the right-wing populist opposition party FPร–. He compares Austria to a dictatorship. He is currently infected with corona himself.

Last week, the FPร– called for a demonstration tomorrow. Media assumes thousands of participants tomorrow, among whom are also expected to be many non-vaccinated. Despite the fact that there is already a lockdown for people who are not cured or vaccinated, they are still allowed to use their right to demonstrate. However, the police will check if everyone has a face mask on.