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35,000 protest against vaccine requirements in Austria

During the morning, the police searched buses en route to Vienna and in several federal states of the country. The police’s message was to avoid central Vienna.

In Austria, there are oral protection requirements at gatherings of more than 50 participants – unless everyone has a so-called 2G certificate that proves they have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19.

Oral protection requirements are challenged

Of the protesters, only a few wore mouth guards, despite the fact that the police had been informed of this request in advance. However, several Austrian flags were seen waving among the protesters.

Austria first decided to shut down the unvaccinated, but from Monday, the entire population will be covered. The closure, which includes most shops and cultural events, is set to last ten days, but can be extended to 20 days.

Federal Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg also announced that the vaccine requirements will be introduced as of February 1, 2022.

The right-wing populist Freedom Party is leading several demonstrations. But their leader, Herbert Kikl, did not attend, as he tested positive for the coronavirus and is in quarantine.

Right-wing extremists

1,300 police were on duty to monitor demonstrations in Vienna, following concerns from the Interior Ministry that several far-right groups were organizing rallies. It is also said that political opponents were threatened prior to the demonstrations.

The infection curve has been moving straight up in Austria since mid-October. On Thursday, more than 15,000 new cases were reported for the first time in a single day – in a country of nearly 9 million people. The record set on Thursday was already broken on Friday, when 15,800 new cases of infection were recorded.

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At the same time, the vaccination rate is among the lowest in Western Europe, “embarrassingly low,” in the words of Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg.

The closure will initially last for a maximum of 20 days, with an assessment after the top ten.

Thousands gathered in Vienna to demonstrate against Austria’s lockdown and planned vaccine demands. Photo: Lisa Lautner/AP/TT

Facts: Covid-19 in Europe

The so-called fourth wave of COVID-19 has taken on partially different expressions than previous waves of infection. Many of the countries most affected during the first phase of the epidemic today have a relatively low prevalence of infection, while countries such as Germany, where few people died at the start of the epidemic, are now among the worst affected.

In German-speaking Europe, the concepts 3G (“geimpft, genesen, getestet”, or in Swedish grafted, restored, tested) and 2G (geimpft, genesen) have been introduced in various contexts.

Austria last week changed the rules from 3G to 2G, imposing a ban on non-vaccinators and planning the same for all residents from next week. In Germany, 2G rules have been introduced in several states, and discussions are underway to extend the concept to the entire country.