At the start of the month, Austria’s government made getting vaccinated against the coronavirus completely mandatory for everybody aged 14 and over. Holdouts will be fined up to 3,600 euros ($4,082) every three months. This decision made Austria the first major country in Europe and the western world to move away from optional vaccinations.
According to Tschugguel, the situation in Austria was, at least partly, caused by the crisis involving the country’s government. As he pointed out, Austria has had three different governments and chancellors within the span of two and a half months. (Related: No relief in sight: Austria’s lockdown enforcer sworn in as chancellor.)
“The government changes currently, like, every week, and everything changes and the laws are changing also every week.”
This political disaster created a vacuum from which emerged political operatives like Austrian Minister of the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler who are in favor of creating sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
While Edtstadler herself is not solely responsible for Austria’s sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandate, she is partly responsible for making sure life for the unvaccinated in Austria will be as difficult as possible.
“It will be technically, more or less, illegal to even in Austria, to exist in Austria, without having this vaccine,” said Tschugguel. “That’s the biggest thing. And that’s what’s bothering us, obviously.”
Austria’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate law has already been passed in parliament. Unvaccinated Austrians will start getting fined by March 2022.
Tschugguel added that Austria’s new government changed the law to allow it to imprison the unvaccinated for refusing orders to get vaccinated. Prison sentences can be up to one year.
This means that, not only will the unvaccinated be fined every three months for remaining unvaccinated, they could also be imprisoned for refusing the experimental and deadly vaccines.
“Austria is, in my eyes, used as the country to introduce this terrible tyranny in Europe. It’s small, it’s possible to introduce it in Austria, and unfortunately, other people now follow,” said Tschugguel. “We are seeing right now that the European Union, and all the other bad forces in Europe use us as an example.”
Tens of thousands of Austrians protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandate
The resistance to Austria’s vaccine mandate is growing. In the Austrian capital of Vienna, local police had to deploy over 1,400 officers to contain a protest that attracted an estimated 44,000 people on Dec. 12. These protests have been occurring every week since the mandate was announced.
Thousands of Austrians marched through the streets of Vienna holding signs like “No to vaccine fascism,” “No to compulsory vaccination,” “I’m fighting for freedom and against the vaccine” and “Hands off our children.” One sign even read “I’m not a neo-Nazi or a hooligan” to counteract the narrative being spun that the health freedom protests were being led by fascists and rioters.
The demonstrators also chanted “We are the people” and “Resistance!” while marching through the streets of Vienna.
Manuela, 47, traveled into Vienna from out of town to join the protest. She was concerned about how the vaccine mandate will force her unvaccinated children to be excluded from the rest of society.
“It’s incredible discrimination not to be able to send a kid to dancing, tennis or swimming lessons,” she said.
Analea, 44, a Viennese violin teacher, said she did not like the path her country was going down and believed this is “not the direction a democracy should be taking.”
“We can have different opinions and values, but still live together freely,” she said.
The protesters were addressed by Herbert Kickl, leader of the conservative Austrian Freedom Party, which currently sits in the parliament’s opposition. He attacked the government’s response to the pandemic, saying that the public was blindsided by the vaccine mandates.
Kickl also urged the protesters to continue and hold protests every week until the government is forced to roll back the mandate.
Several smaller peaceful demonstrations were also held in at least two other Austrian cities.
By Arsenio Toledo
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