Europe toughens rules for unvaccinated as fourth wave of Covid swells

ROME – As temperatures drop and coronavirus infections increase in Europe, some countries are introducing increasingly targeted restrict...

ROME – As temperatures drop and coronavirus infections increase in Europe, some countries are introducing increasingly targeted restrictions on the unvaccinated that are causing another wave of contagion and endangering economic recovery, public health and a possible return to pre-pandemic freedoms.

Austria set a new bar for such measures in the West on Monday. Faced with a 134% increase in cases in the past two weeks, the Austrian government has cracked down on its unvaccinated population over the age of 12, limiting their travel to travel for work, school, grocery shopping and healthcare medical.

“Our task as the federal government is to protect the Austrian people,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said at a press conference on Sunday. “We take this responsibility. “

Austria’s move is a model of governments across Europe passing rules to make life harder for the unvaccinated, in an effort to motivate people to get vaccinated. Taken together, these measures are a dark and clear sign that a virus which, however fleeting, seemed to be part of European history, was still part of its present and future.

The The World Health Organization has warned recently that Europe was once again the epicenter of the pandemic and that half a million people on the continent could die from Covid in the coming months. Europe reported a 10% increase in deaths and a 7% increase in new infections in the first week of November, compared to the previous week.

Hospitalizations and deaths have mostly taken place in Eastern Europe, but the new wave has threatened economic recovery and the Christmas holidays across the continent. A return to normalcy based on the success of vaccination campaigns was increasingly threatened by the unvaccinated who offered the virus a piece to run.

That is why governments across Europe have taken a further step by explicitly distinguishing the unvaccinated. The new rules in Austria have resulted in “a massive reduction in contact between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated”, Professor Eva Schernhammer of the University of Medicine in Vienna told the BBC.

Likewise, in Germany, which has been besieged by a resurgent virus, the new government has said it will impose stricter rules on unvaccinated people, including requiring that they get a negative coronavirus test before traveling to the provinces. bus or trains. In France, booster injections will become compulsory for people aged 65 and over wishing to obtain a health pass. And in Italy, vaccination, recent recovery from the virus or frequent negative smears are needed to work.

However, some European leaders felt that Austria’s new measure went too far.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has suffered a wave of new cases in recent weeks, has maintained his resistance to mask warrants and health passes.

“Our friends on the mainland have been forced to respond with varying degrees of new restrictions, from complete lockdowns and lockdowns for the unvaccinated, to restrictions on business hours and restrictions on social gatherings,” Mr Johnson said on Monday, but he doubled down on vaccinations, saying boosters would be offered to people aged 40 and over, and second doses made available to people aged 16 and 17 who are up to them. ‘have now been authorized. He said he was worried about “storm clouds gathering over the continent”.

This is particularly the case in Eastern Europe, where the scars left by decades of disinformation under communism seemed to have opened and sowed skepticism of medical expertise. Romania, which has The second lowest vaccination rate in Europe recently reported the the highest per capita death rate in the world of Covid-19. In Bulgaria, hospitals are flooded.

Last month, the small Baltic nation of Latvia, where resistance to vaccination is high, especially among the ethnic Russian population, responded to its outbreak with a complete lockdown. Russia and Ukraine, which each have vaccination rates below 50 percent, have also introduced widespread restrictions.

Infections have broken out across borders in Western Europe.

In Germany, which has seen a dizzying increase in cases partly due to a slow roll-out of booster vaccines, officials hoped that charging people for swab tests would motivate them to get the vaccine. But they will try again to keep a closer watch on the virus by making free coronavirus tests available to all adults in the country. The government has suggested that these tests might be required to enter events and certain places, even for the vaccinated.

Over the weekend, the three parties that joined to form the next German government coalition agreed to impose tougher rules against unvaccinated people, including requiring that they get a negative coronavirus test before they go. traveling on buses or trains, as infection rates soar to new heights.

Some German states are introducing more stringent mask mandates and requiring vaccination instead of negative testing for entry to sites.

Infections have also broken out in northern Italy, on the Austrian and Slovenian borders. Italy, with a vaccination rate of over 80% for people over 12, already has one of the strictest restrictions in Europe thanks to a health pass that requires vaccination or swabs constant for employees to work.

The Italian government has announced in recent days that taxis can only carry two people, unless they are family members, and has allowed health authorities or the railway police to stop trains if the passengers had symptoms that may be associated with the coronavirus.

“I am worried about an increase in infections before Christmas,” Luigi Di Maio, Italian foreign minister, told a conference on Sunday, adding that the stringency of the health pass was designed to keep businesses open and that the country would do whatever it took to stay open.

“Look at the other European states”, added Mr. Di Maio, “which have a lower level of vaccination than us, they are inserting a series of much more restrictive measures than ours”.

Greece introduced rules this month requiring unvaccinated people to take a negative rapid test or PCR in order to access utilities, banks, shops and hairdressers. They were to do the same to enter cafes and restaurants, triggering a 24-hour strike scheduled for Tuesday to protest the new measures. Greek authorities have said they are also considering further measures against unvaccinated people.

France announced that masks would be compulsory again in primary schools and that it would tighten restrictions in the face of increasing cases, with the number of new daily infections now more than doubling from early October, from about 4,000 to over 8,000.

As of December 15, people over 65 will have to get a reminder to keep their eligibility for the health pass that allows them to enter restaurants, museums and long-distance trains.

Instead, countries that have successfully immunized a large percentage of their population have relaxed the restrictions. Portugal, which has vaccinated nearly 90% of its population, reduced its health pass requirement on October 1 and lifted almost all of its restrictions on coronaviruses. Spain, which has achieved an 80% vaccination rate, does not require a health card.

But the trend appears to be tightening as winter approaches and the virus spreading.

Even the Basque region in northern Spain is expected to announce restrictions on gatherings in cities with high infection rates on Tuesday. And the Austrian Chancellor made it clear that the only way for Europe to emerge from the pandemic and lockdowns was through vaccination.

“My goal is very clearly to vaccinate the unvaccinated, and not to lock up the vaccinated,” Schallenberg told Austrian radio Ö1, according to the Associated Press. “In the long term, breaking out of this vicious cycle that we find ourselves in – and it’s a vicious cycle, we stumble from wave to wave in containment, and this can’t go on forever – is just vaccination. “

Reporting was provided by Christopher F. Schuetze in Dortmund, Germany; Stephen Castle in London; Aurélien Breeden in Paris; Isabella Kwai in London; and Emma Bubola and Elisabetta Povoledo in Rome.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Europe toughens rules for unvaccinated as fourth wave of Covid swells
Europe toughens rules for unvaccinated as fourth wave of Covid swells
Newsrust - US Top News
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