Austria is now the only European country that has made Covid vaccinations compulsory for all. The government abandoned its “vaccine apartheid” and instead implemented a nationwide lockdown.

Alexander Schallenberg, Chancellor of Germany, announced that everyone must have the Covid vaccine by February 1. While he didn’t specify the age group, it is likely there will be exceptions to cover those under 18 and for those who can not be jabbed due to medical reasons.

He said, “For a long while there was consensus within this country that vaccinations should not be mandatory.” Long time ago, perhaps too long, people believed it was possible to attain a high level of vaccination without any obligation. We now have to confront the facts.

Health Minister Wolfgang Muckstein said the government has consulted with constitutional lawyers who suggested such a move would be legal, but said the start of the mandate has been pushed to next year to allow for a ‘proper review period’.

In the meantime, everyone in Austria will be barred from leaving their homes starting on Monday, with all non-essential shops closed along with most workplaces and schools. Prior to this, only unvaccinated persons were affected by the new measures. 

As it became known that Europe was now experiencing a period of unprecedented change, the shock announcement came. Its largest ever Covid wave, with Wednesday’s record-breaking one-day infected count.

According to Our World in Data, 310,000 Covid cases were reported in Europe in 24 hours. This is more than the previous peak of 290,000.  

Ireland, however, that imposed a near-time curfew this week on all hospitality businesses, today put its hospitals on a “war footing” with routine operations being cancelled in order to make space for Covid patients. This was in response to a warning by the top doctor of the country, which warned that intensive care physicians face unimaginable choices about who they will give care to.

Germany’s future Chancellor Olaf Scholz claimed that nearly 30 million shots must be administered by the end of this year to fight the effects of the winter waves. That would more than double the current number of shots the country gives daily.

The speech was made just days after Germany had proposed new rules to restrict unvaccinated persons from states with high hospital admissions. Today’s vote by the Bundestag will be on these new laws. 

It was also the country that targeted the unvaccinated to lockdown. A government spokesperson said it was ‘inescapable’ that they would face more restrictions after a new decree will be published next week.  

Austria, the EU’s first country, had already instituted a lockdown at the beginning of this week to protect those who have not been vaccinated.

Yet, the number of infections has risen. A new record was set in Alpine EU, which has nearly 9 million inhabitants.

The demand for vaccines has increased over the past few days and now 66% are completely jabbed. That’s slightly less than the EU average which is more like 67%.

Other European countries have also increased their restriction as more cases are filed across the continent.

The government of Hungary announced Thursday that masks will be made indoors mandatory starting Saturday for its neighbours Austria.

The World Health Organization described Africa as the “epicentre of the pandemic.” Germany’s last-night restrictions mean that only those who are double-jabbed (or have a certificate of recovery) can access restaurants, sporting venues, and cultural events.

Germany will enforce its clampdown in areas where more than three Covid-infected patients are admitted to hospital per 100,000 inhabitants. 

Bild reported that Saxony was the hardest affected by the fourth wave and is looking at closing theatres and concert halls, as well as postponing football matches. 

Lothar Wieler of the Robert Koch Institute to Infectious Diseases warned Germans that they would face a ‘terrible Christmas’ if there were not tighter controls.

He said that anyone who can’t see this is making a huge mistake. This was referring to the record-breaking rise in infection rates of 65,371 cases within 24 hours yesterday.

Austria also reached a new high on Thursday with 15,145. The Alpine country, which already has 63% of its people vaccinated, gave a directive earlier in the week directing all unvaccinated citizens to return home.

They may leave their homes for essential reasons only and rule-breakers can be hit with fines as high as €1,450. Today, Upper Austria (Stadt) and Salzburg announced complete shut downs.

Wilfried Hasselauer, Salzburg governor said that there is no other option than a lockdown.

Alexander De Croo (Belgian prime minister) stated that “all the alarm signs are red.” Europe’s map has been rapidly changing to red.

Marco Cavaleri, European Medicines Agency stated that low vaccine rates in certain countries and the Delta variant of some countries were driving up the number of cases.