Tighter restrictions for unvaccinated- How Europe is solving low vaccine take up

After the German federal election on the 26th of September, the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP) won with a total of 25.7% of votes (the highest amount of support in the election). Although they have yet to secure the role of leading Germany’s next Government, due to not having sufficient support from the popular vote and thus having to form a coalition, the SDP has already formed plans on lockdown restrictions.

In a response to rising Covid-19 cases, they plan to increase restrictions on the unvaccinated in Germany. This would involve preventing the unvaccinated from using public transport, with everyone having to have proof of their inoculation against Covid-19.

Put simply by Dirk Weise, the deputy of the Social Democrats Party, it “is actually a lockdown for the unvaccinated”. Those who are vaccinated can return to social life, while those who aren’t are restricted in the places they can go.

As well as preventing Covid-19 cases to rise, the tighter restrictions are also hoped to increase vaccination numbers. Currently, Germany has one of the highest unvaccinated rates (of 30%) in the EU alongside Switzerland and Austria.

The inspiration for these new restrictions comes from Austria who implemented tighter restrictions for the unvaccinated earlier this week, as they are also struggling with vaccine take-up.

This drastic measure has been taken as currently there are more than 300 cases per 100,000 people in Austria alone. On top of this, nearly 90% of those in Intensive Care Units who are being treated for Covid are unvaccinated, thus putting immense strain on Austrias health services which are public.

Naturally, the Government has come to the conclusion that an increase in vaccine uptake would solve the issue and save lives. In order to achieve this, they are creating greater incentives for people to become vaccinated.

So far, Austria has made it a requirement that residents will need to have both doses of the vaccine, or proof that they have recovered from Covid. Alternatively, the unvaccinated will not be able to leave their homes more than once a day for essential needs. To regulate this, there may be possible police checks and fines into their thousands for those who break the restrictions.

Unsurprisingly, the backlash against the Austrian Government’s policies was severe. Herbert Kickl, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, condemned the “harsh restrictions”.

Perhaps these restrictions, enforced by Austria and suggested by Germany, seems like an infringement on freedom. However, it must be remembered that real people are dying because of the virus, and so Governments are having to weigh up whether they value lives or liberty more.


Written by Charlotte Hurst


The New York times- “Winner but not chancellor, yet: the race to replace Merkel”

The Financial Times- “German legislators seek tighter rules for unvaccinated”


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