The Austrian government has imposed a nationwide stay-at-home lockdown exclusively on the unvaccinated, in what opposition politicians have denounced as a “corona apartheid system”.
“We really didn’t take this step lightly and I don’t think it should be talked down,” said Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg in comments to Oe1 radio quoted by the Associated Press.
“This a dramatic step — about 2 million people in this country are affected,” he confirmed, claiming that “what we are trying is precisely to reduce contact between the unvaccinated and vaccinated to a minimum, and also contact between the unvaccinated.”
“My aim is very clearly to get the unvaccinated to get themselves vaccinated and not to lock down the vaccinated,” Schallenberg stressed.
“In the long term, the way out of this vicious circle we are in — and it is a vicious circle, we are stumbling from wave to lockdown, and that can’t carry on ad infinitum — is only vaccination,” he added, appearing to, in effect, warn vaccine sceptics and the vaccine hesitant that they will be unable to live normal lives participating in society until they are jabbed.
“In reality we have told one-third of the population: you will not leave your [home] apart from for certain reasons,” the Chancellor said in comments quoted by the BBC, in case there was any doubt as to his intentions.
Herbert Kickl, a former Minister of the Interior and the chairman of the national populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), slammed the discriminatory lockdown as a “Corona apartheid system” and, according to Euractiv, called for mass demonstrations to protest the move, arguing that “two million people are being practically imprisoned without having done anything wrong.”
Kickl, who has described coronavirus vaccines as “experimental”, said in September that “Whether or not someone gets vaccinated against Corona has to be their free choice. That’s the freedom of access. I am not vaccinated.”
Unvaccinated Austrians were already banned from locations including cinemas, hair salons, and restaurants before the new stay-at-home lockdown went into effect.