Draconian COVID-19 mitigation measures have reportedly gained steam in Austria, as that country’s lower chamber of parliament last week approved a measure mandating vaccination for all adults and authorizing costly fines amounting to the equivalent of $4,000 for those who do not comply, according to Fox News.
Austrian lawmakers approved the vaccine rules by a vote of 137 to 33 following lengthy, hours-long debate, and the measure requires any resident 18 years of age and older to receive the jabs unless the fall into one of the exceptions provided in the law’s language.
Those excused from compliance include those with medical exemptions, expectant mothers, and anyone who can prove recovery from COVID-19 during the preceding six months, making the mandate the most stringent to take effect anywhere in the European Union.
Prior to the final vote in the lower chamber, Austrian health minister Wolfgang Mueckstein justified the proposal by saying, “This is how we can manage to escape the cycle of opening and closing, of lockdowns. That is why this law is so urgently needed right now.”
Herbert Kickl, leader of the nation’s Freedom Party, took an opposite view of the situation, saying, “I’m appalled, I’m stunned, I’m shaken and I’m shocked,” declaring the law to be “nothing more than a huge blow to the freedoms of Austrians.”
Should the measure pass in the legislature’s upper chamber – an outcome which is expected – the mandate is poised to take effect on Feb. 1 and will reportedly be enforced until late January of 2024.
Austria is, sadly, not the only European nation to double down on authoritarian measures to combat COVID-19 in recent days, with France passing a law that prevents unvaccinated citizens from availing themselves of restaurants, cafes, as well as a host of other public accommodations, according to The Hill.
The new rules replace the country’s prior policy in which unvaccinated individuals could still enter public facilities of the type from which they are now banned, provided they could produce proof of recent recovery or a negative test, but those options will no longer be available.
Fortunately, the news is not nearly as bleak in other parts of the world, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared last week that most coronavirus restrictions in England will be lifted as of Monday, in an encouraging sign that reason and rationality has not disappeared entirely from the globe and that hopefully, America will also abandon the last vestiges of COVID authoritarianism forthwith.