Austria Turns Police State, Officers Hunt Down the Unvaccinated as Protesters Cry: 'Our Bodies, Our Freedom'
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Austria took what its leader Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg called the "dramatic" step Monday of implementing a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people who have not contracted the COVID-19 virus.
About two million people remain unvaccinated in the European nation according to the chancellor.
It's just another of a number of measures taken by several EU governments to get a massive regional resurgence of the virus under control.
One Twitter user who goes by the name "Bernie's Tweets," shared video of Austria's interior minister Karl Nehammer's stern warning to the Austrian people.
"Every Person in Austria must be aware that they can be checked by the police at any time - Interior Minister. Citizens owned now by the State. Today it's vaccines, but tomorrow?" the user wrote.
AUSTRIA— Bernie's Tweets (@BernieSpofforth) November 15, 2021
"Every Person in Austria must be aware that they can be checked by the police at any time"
- Interior Minister.
Citizens owned now by the State. Today it's vaccines, but tomorrow?#NoVaccinePassports #Covid pic.twitter.com/Cr2jB0WKWl
Austria now prohibits people 12 and older who haven't been vaccinated or recently recovered from leaving their homes except for basic activities such as working, grocery shopping, going to school or university or for a walk — or getting vaccinated.
The lockdown will continue across Austria until Nov. 24. It doesn't apply to children under 12 because they cannot yet officially get vaccinated.
Government officials say police patrols and checks will be stepped up and unvaccinated people can be fined up to 1,450 euros ($1,660) if they violate the lockdown.
Max Blumentthal, editor of the Gray Zone News, tweeted a 44-second video clip of Austrian police checking department store patrons and others for proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations.
"Austrian police hunt for The Unvaccinated, who have been confined to their homes and face fines of $1660 for being in public (except when working). And the human rights industry, the EU, US and much of the int'l left are silent, if not quietly approving."
Austrian police hunt for The Unvaccinated, who have been confined to their homes and face fines of $1660 for being in public (except when working).— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) November 16, 2021
And the human rights industry, the EU, US and much of the int'l left are silent, if not quietly approving. pic.twitter.com/Wc26Eh09EC
Schallenberg called the present situation in his country "a vicious circle" that needs to end.
"My aim is very clearly to get the unvaccinated to get themselves vaccinated and not to lock down the vaccinated," Schallenberg told Oe1 radio. "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."
About 65% of Austria's population is fully vaccinated, a rate Schallenberg described as "shamefully low." All students at schools, whether vaccinated or not, are now required to take three COVID-19 tests per week, at least one of them a PCR test.
The leader of the far-right opposition Freedom Party vowed to combat the new restrictions by "all parliamentary and legal means we have available." Herbert Kickl said that "two million people are being practically imprisoned without having done anything wrong."
The BBC reports over the weekend, hundreds of people protested outside the chancellery in the capital, Vienna, waving banners that read: "Our bodies, our freedom to decide."
One female protester said she was demonstrating "to fight for my rights". "It is totally discriminatory what is happening here," she said.
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