Austria will begin imposing heavy fines and prison sentences on citizens who refuse Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination starting in February, according to media reports.
In the Google translate version of a Nov. 29 paywalled article by Austrian media outlet Die Presse, a “first rough draft” of the country’s new COVID-19 Vaccine Protection Act was viewed by the outlet.
DP says the legislation will apply to Austrian residents and those who have a “habitual abode” in the country, and is set to have limited exceptions for children under the age of 12 and some pregnant women.
The article notes that maintaining fully vaccinated status will require taking booster injections as prescribed by the Minister of Health.
Website Euractiv says, based on DP’s reporting, that citizens who still refuse to comply with compulsory vaccination will be summoned by law enforcement. If they continue to refuse injection after a second summon, a 3,600 Euro ($4,080 USD approx.) fine will be assessed.
After the first fine, if the person is considered to be putting another individual at “serious risk” or continues to refuse to comply, the fine will be increased to 7,200 Euros ($8,160 USD approx.).
Euractiv says DP’s report says the government is questioning how to coerce those who have the means to simply pay the fine to accept vaccination. One solution being considered is to distribute the fines every six months.
Bulgarian media outlet Novinite says the first fine also comes with an “or four months in prison” clause.
European news aggregator Free West Media, based on a rewrite of a paywalled article by German language outlet Kurier, said the Act would be reviewed next week and is set to persist for three years if enacted.
The outlet appears to say 15 professions are targeted by the Act, including “doctors, pharmacists, nurses, dentists, midwives and paramedics,” and “music therapists, therapeutic masseurs and psychologists.”
On Nov. 22, Austria initiated a full lockdown on all citizens after plans to implement a lockdown on only the vaccinated backfired after massive protests by citizens and a refusal from some labor unions to support the mandate emerged.
USA Today says that mandatory vaccination regimens were already announced at the time, but no penalties had been decided upon.
Heralds and harbingers
U.S. establishment media appears delighted with the proceedings. A Nov. 30 article by CNN titled Making Covid-19 Vaccines Mandatory was Once Unthinkable. But European Countries are Showing It can Work utilized extreme rhetoric to fan flames of vaccine status-based social class divisions.
Describing the policy shift as “a step once unthinkable for a Western democracy,” CNN claimed that, “Even in authoritarian states, like China, it is not mandatory policy.”
The network, notorious for playing a role more like a propaganda department than a media outlet, called the unvaccinated “the people who have been driving a worrying surge in hospitalizations,” while sympathizing with the “desperate position governments find themselves in as they look to protect public health systems and tentative economic recoveries.”
“It is that irony that has drawn the ire of Europe’s leaders, who are growing increasingly frustrated by vaccine skeptics and other pockets of the population still resisting Covid-19 vaccination programs.”
CNN also described the emergence of the Omicron variant, discovered in four fully vaccinated diplomats in Botswana as early as Nov. 11, as the harbinger that “could push more countries to harden their approach, pivoting from voluntary to mandatory measures in a last-ditch effort to get shots in arms.”
Austria’s leader, Alexander Schallenberg, used similarly perilous bombast, framing vaccines as the only panacea to cure the very lockdowns he imposed on Austria’s 8.9 million people during his own comments in an interview with CNN on Nov. 22, “We have enough vaccines. Science gave us the possibility, the exit ticket out of this vicious circle of virus waves and lockdown discussions.”
“And simply not enough people are using this possibility and taking this exit ticket, and that’s why we’re still stuck in this situation,” he added.
Framing the issue with a tactic analogous to that used by domestic abusers, Schallenberg blamed his citizens’ “high degree of insecurity” and “believing in fake news” for making him “take this drastic step” of re-imposing national lockdowns.
CNN, who dumped several unvaccinated staff members in August, made it clear that full fledged mandatory vaccination is set to be deployed to the rest of the world, “The question over whether or not to pull the trigger on mandates, and how to weigh up the risk to civil liberties against a serious threat to overstretched healthcare systems, has caused a lot of hand-wringing across the world — especially in Europe, a proud bastion for liberal democracy.”
“But just as lockdowns have become a part of pandemic life, the rapidly emerging view in Europe is that vaccine mandates are not just plausible — they could pay off. Rules in France, Italy and now Austria provide a window into what to expect.”
According to Nov. 30 reporting by The Guardian, Germany’s next Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, was paraphrased as telling a “meeting of regional leaders” that “he was in favour of a cross-party initiative to make vaccines mandatory,” including rolling out vaccine passports to non-essential businesses.