More lockdowns are underway in Europe. What happened to reopen promises?
Fury Over Lockdowns
Global markets are reeling in the wake of more lockdowns and threats of them.
The Economist (paywall) notes surge of deadly covid cases in Europe is met by popular fury over lockdowns.
The sight of 40,000 unvaccinated Austrians marching through their capital, Vienna, in recent days was troubling twice over. The tightly packed opponents of lockdown measures were at risk of spreading the coronavirus. They also threatened to stir up an already tense political situation. Karl Nehammer, Austria’s interior minister, warned that anti-vaxxers in the Alpine republic are growing more radicalised. He called the demonstration’s mood “incensed” and “aggressive”. Some protesters were extremely provocative, carrying placards likening Alexander Schallenberg, Austria’s new chancellor, to Josef Mengele, the sadistic physician at the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz.
The protesters were marching against Austria’s increasingly tough measures against anti-vaxxers. On November 22nd the government imposed a full lockdown once again, to last for at least ten days. That compels Austria’s 9m people to hunker down at home, leaving only for work, essential shopping and exercise. Austria is also the first Western democracy to make covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all, starting on February 1st 2022. “For a long time—maybe too long—I and others assumed that it must be possible to convince people in Austria to get vaccinated voluntarily,” said Mr Schallenberg when he announced his “very difficult” decision.
Let Our Guard Down
The Washington Post (paywalled) reports ‘We let our guard down’: Frustrated Europe heads into second pandemic winter
Life was finally starting to feel normal. An online flier for an October party in this Belgian beach town cursed the coronavirus and invited people to dance and drink again, to “get your clacker back from the attic” and kick off Carnival season.
Hundreds attended that event and another Carnival party the next night. Most of the town is vaccinated, and people were required to show proof, or a recent negative test, to enter. But it wasn’t enough. Coronavirus cases spiked the week after. Officials worried about pressure on the local hospital. And soon the town found itself under semi-lockdown once more.
As Americans catch up with family and friends this holiday week, with some trepidation about enduring risk, Europe is facing another wave of the virus — and a gloomy and frustrating second pandemic winter.
New Heavily Mutated Covid Variant
The emerging variant arrives in Europe amid an already devastating Covid surge linked to the delta strain. Europe saw more than 2.4 million new Covid cases over the week ended Nov. 21, an increase of 11% from the previous seven days, according to the WHO’s most recent epidemiological update.
Europe represented 67% of all Covid cases reported globally during that span, the WHO measured.
Belgium tightened restrictions this week to stop the spread of the virus, requiring people to work from home four days a week through the middle of December. Austria started its fourth lockdown of the pandemic on Monday, with a nationwide vaccine mandate scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has said that the lockdown will last for at most 20 days.
New Lockdowns and Restrictions
- Slovakia declared a two-week lockdown on Wednesday. People can leave home for a limited number of reasons, including buying groceries, going to work and to school, and getting vaccinated. And starting next week, all workers will have to show they’ve been vaccinated, recovered from the coronavirus or had a recent negative test.
- Austria, imposed a lockdown that will last at least 10 days and up to 20.
- The Netherlands ordered bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m.
- Belgium has mandated that all but essential employees work from home four days a week. Belgium also reinstituted an indoor mask mandate this month.
- Merkel pushed for a German lockdown as its death toll passed 100,000.
- The U.K. halted flights from six countries in the region, and European Union member states have collectively agree to pause travel to and from southern Africa.
- Singapore banned flights from southern Africa
- Japan is increasing border controls for travelers from the region.
- Italy requires proof of vaccination or recovery for access to many parts of public life. Vaccination restrictions fcome into effect on December 6 and last until January 15.
Mess in Germany
Eurointelligence comments on Germany’s Federal Virus.
The massive outbreak in Covid-19 hospitalizations and fatalities in Germany raises disturbing questions about who is in charge. Having failed to achieve the right levels of vaccine procurement early on during the pandemic, the German authorities have repeated the same mistake. They did not procure the booster shots they needed. They have not set up a network of vaccination centres to deliver them rapidly.
As of this weekend, only 11.4% of the population has received booster shots. It is very difficult to get an appointment. Only doctor’s surgeries are allowed to deliver them. The network has not been expanded to pharmacies.
So why is this happening again? The answer is that the German healthcare system, well-funded as it is, is not set up for a pandemic, or indeed for public health emergencies in general. This is a publicly-funded, but privately run, healthcare system. The states are in charge of the local healthcare administrations and hospitals. Health insurance is a matter for the federal government, but states supervise the health insurance companies. What can possibly go wrong?
Message From German Stats
In Germany, over 45% of people hospitalized for Covid-19 are fully vaccinated.
That last stat sounds more shocking than it really is. Germany is 68% fully vaccinated. Thus 55% of the hospitalizations cases come from 32% of the population.
Only 11% of Germany received a booster. Given vaccinations wear off, the proper take away is get a booster, not flout the stats.
Vaccine Mandate US
In the US, the Biden administration imposed a vaccine mandate vis OSHA on companies with more than 100 employees.
On November 15, I noted Appeals Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine Mandate in a Blistering Rebuke
The rebuke was a huge attack on the competence of Biden’s mandate. My position, upfront was the mandate was unconstitutional.
Given multiple attacks on the mandate, jurisdiction, the case moved from the 5th Circuit to the 6th Circuit, where Biden doubled down.
On November 23, I commented Biden Doubles Down on Vaccine Mandate With Another Circuit Court
The justice department files an emergency motion with the 6th circuit court arguing the 5th circuit’s postponement of the OSHA vaccine mandate was unjustified
I strongly suspect the 6th Circuit will reaffirm the previous ruling.
Meanwhile, protests or not, mutations go on and on.
What Covid Lockdowns and Disruptions in Europe Signal to the U.S.
“Take two shots and we will reopen society. That turned out to be a false promise.”
It’s been one false promise after another, by Dr. Fauci, by Trump, by Biden, by Merkel, globally everywhere.
Trust is essentially gone and rising protests are proof.
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