VIENNA – Austria that (re) closes has Clemens’ sweat beaded on its forehead at the end of the evening jog in the Belvedere gardens. “I feel like crying. But I think the government is showing great responsibility: the one that the NoVax do not have. For them the responsibility is a UFO, a mysterious object. They are uncivilized and selfish, because of them we pay everyone”. Clemens is upset, lawyer. Like his wife Larissa, a social worker, and his off-site university children – one is in Graz, the other in Innsbruck – Clemens will shut himself up at home on Monday and for twenty days he will watch the world from the TV and from the windows of the apartment five minutes from the ‘Hofburg. The games are done. The government has decided what was announced, or at least in the air, from early November: almost three weeks of generalized lockdown; inside everyone, vaccinated and not. It is the Austrian hard line that in a gradual progression modulated by government and local administrators (the first to put the stakes in No Vax was Vienna), will reach its peak on February 1, 2022, when the entire population of the country will have to be vaccinated.
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The governor of the Land Tyrol Guenther Platter goes to the point: “Only with the vaccination obligation will we get out of the vicious circle”. Platter chairs the conference of Austrian governors. “So we can avoid the fifth wave.” In Austria she is the evil monster at the gates. If it is possible to measure the hunger of the virus, the situation is serious but not very serious (in neighboring Germany the state of the art has certified Angela Merkel speaking of a “dramatic situation”). But you know, the Austrians prefer to prevent troubles. And therefore: why did the lockdown occur? The chancellor explains Alexander Schallenberg: “Despite months of effort, we haven’t managed to get enough people to get vaccinated.” Surrender? Perhaps pragmatism. The theme is also political. “There are too many forces against us”, added Schallenberg, speaking of an “attack on the health system”. Translated: too many friends of the enemies of the virus, who then, not wanting to immunize, are the first allies of Covid. Skeptics, pure deniers, otherwise No Vax. Austria has a hard core of resistant people who, in the now classic nemesis of those who reject protective serum, end up clogging hospitals and intensive care.
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Look at Vienna. Mayor Michael Ludwig two weeks ago he closed the No Vax at home with the only exception, in fact, of walks and outings to go to work: zero social life, no cultural activities, cinemas, theaters. Beauty centers and hairdressers are also off limits in the capital. “So maybe we convince them.” The mayor had confided this to his collaborators. It went another way. The rush forward of the Viennese Rathaus had pushed Austria under the lens of Europe grappling with a new round against Covid. In Vienna, the percentage of No Vax in intensive care has reached 87.7%. A lot of stuff if you consider that, for infections, the capital is not among the worst-off cities. But so be it. From here the offensive against the anti-vaccine ultras started. Listen to Matheus, 23-year-old architecture student. “I’m left, write it down.” Like so many, he hoped to be able to go ahead in swabs. “My people pay me, also No Vax. Why do I have to submit to a government diktat when it is known that even the vaccinated get sick?”. If he does not change his mind within 20 days, the lockdown will continue for him: because the Austrian model, this provides, 20 days completely closed. Then the blockade only for the diehards.
“Government and Laender are moving in the same direction”, hopes Guenther Platter. The time for compromises is over. In schools, the mask returns, children can stay at home even without a medical certificate and Dad will be reactivated. “Whoever is against the vaccine is making an attempt on our health”. This is the gloss with which Chancellor Schallenberg accompanied the announcement of the measures. In 48 hours the shutters of theaters, museums, cinemas, restaurants will lower. “It hurts, but it’s inevitable.” “Someone will bend, others will not”, promises the young Matheus. The No Vax wall will crack: it will certainly be able to withstand, at most, until February. Then enough, game over.