Nicolas (40) and Fiona (37) celebrate one last party before they prepare for the mandatory vaccination and the shutdown.
– We celebrate our last night in freedom, says Nicolas, founder of the tourism industry.
The light is dimmed, the jazz music is playing and the deep red interior gives the group of friends the bar atmosphere they need now. Maybe it will be the last party in town in a long time.
On Monday, Austria imposed a ten-day lockdown for unvaccinated people. You are only allowed to go shopping, to the doctor, to work or to school.
Nicolas and many others believe there will be a closure for everyone, either from Monday or maybe as early as Saturday.
– My mother is a doctor. The intensive care units are struggling and filtering out the patients who are being treated. A closure seems to be necessary for everyone, says Nicolas.
Behind the counter, Robert Kocokasonko (20) mixes American cocktails with his straw hat. He is one of the unvaccinated and tests himself every day in order to be able to work. As an unvaccinated person, he can only buy food to go to work, to the doctor or to buy food, otherwise he is at home.
– It is gross and unfair, he says about the lockdown for unvaccinated people.
He believes the government should find other solutions.
– Why aren’t you vaccinated?
– I’m not a fan of vaccines. I think everyone should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to be vaccinated or not.
– But is it the vaccines that will save us?
– Yes, they say that, but vaccinated people get sick anyway.
Die Bar Roberto in downtown Vienna is not even half full on this Thursday evening. Pubs in Vienna are allowed to be open until 4 a.m., although the corona infection has exploded in the last few days.
The Freundeskreis says that during the Corona period, the government made it a habit to make small drops about new measures. Now everyone interprets it as if there were new very strict measures such as closure and compulsory vaccination.
– How do you see a possible new shutdown?
– I’m pretty disappointed. We’ve heard for a long time that the vaccines will save us, but then we’ll get locked inside again, says Fiona, who works with sales.
Both she and Nicolas are fully vaccinated. She has no sympathy for those who do not get vaccinated.
Austria’s intervention measures against unvaccinated people have made headlines around the world.
– We’re even in the headlines in Brazil, says Nicolas.
In Austria there is a discussion about the compulsory vaccination. Nicolas is in favor of people being forced to get vaccinated.
– Yes I think so. This is about society as a whole. Although these vaccines have not been tested for years, the point is that society can only continue to function in this way, says Nicolas.
People hurry away in the streets of Vienna, which are decorated for Christmas. When entering a store, in some places you will be asked for a Corona passport. Mouthpieces are mandatory in stores. Not the usual surgical sanitary napkins, but sanitary napkins of the FFP2 type. A stiffer quality tie that resembles a bird’s beak.
The mood in Austria is weak. Restaurants and bars have fewer guests than usual. The hotels are not getting the bookings they were hoping for. Infection rates are at a record high, up to 14,000 per day in the past few days. Up to 40 people die every day.
The task of the police is to check whether the ban on unvaccinated people has to be complied with. Breaking the rules can result in a fine of up to 1450 euros, which is the equivalent of 14,346 Norwegian kroner.
Experts and politicians are looking for measures that can help. One of them is compulsory vaccination, an interventional measure. Several infection control experts are calling for a full lockdown. The compromise could be a night curfew. The government will announce new measures on Friday.
One third unvaccinated
Austria is one of the worst vaccinated in Europe, apart from some Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria and Romania. Almost 64 percent are fully vaccinated.
To get more people vaccinated, two types of corona passports have been introduced. Only the 2G variant allows access to restaurants and bars, among other things. To get this type of Corona Pass, you must be fully vaccinated or have recently had Covid-19.
“Doctors and members of the health professions from all over Austria told me about the dramatic situation in hospitals and intensive care units,” tweeted President Alexander Van der Bellen on Thursday.
He warned that health professionals struggling to survive coronary artery disease on a daily basis are working at the limit of their endurance.